Douglas County Commission to consider $30,000 in tax relief to property damaged by May tornado

photo by: Submitted photo by Joe Leuschen

Drone footage shows a portion of the damage in the Shank Hill neighborhood south of Lawrence following a tornado on May 28, 2019.

Douglas County residents whose property was damaged during the May 28 tornado may soon receive some tax relief from the county government.

The County Commission on Wednesday will consider approving a total of $30,000 in tax abatements for 17 county properties affected by the tornado. The abatements, which are property tax reductions, vary for each property based on the amount of their assessed damage.

County Appraiser Steven Miles said in a memo to the commissioners that the county had the authority to offer property tax abatements to residents when their homes are destroyed or severely damaged by natural disasters, including tornadoes. Miles noted, however, that he read the statute to be applicable only to residential property, which would exclude damaged detached buildings, landscaping or land from receiving the tax abatements.

Since the May tornado, the county has received 22 applications for tax abatements and expects to receive more, Miles said in the memo. So far, 17 of those applications have been reviewed and processed by the appraiser’s office, he said.

The total value of structures damaged or destroyed in the event was about $22 million, the county said in June.

The tornado touched down south of Lawrence, beginning near Lone Star Lake, and mowed through properties to the county line. It continued northeastward into Leavenworth County, where it finally lifted after being on the ground for nearly 32 miles and reaching EF-4 strength, according to the National Weather Service.

In Douglas County, the tornado destroyed 13 homes; caused major damage to 29; caused minor damage to 42; and affected 11 more, according to the count released by Douglas County Emergency Management in June. In addition, two commercial businesses were damaged along with one home office.

In other business, the commissioners will consider awarding a $75,000 contract to Headquarters Counseling Center, a Lawrence suicide prevention organization, to implement its Zero Suicide Initiative in the county.

The initiative is a three-year suicide prevention program created in the belief that no one in a health care system should die by suicide. The program includes screening health care patients for suicide risk and enrolling them in a suicide care program to mitigate immediate risk, according to a memo to the commissioners.

The $75,000 would cover the first year of the program, which consists of the Headquarters Counseling Center working with the health care agencies serving Douglas County residents to assess their ability to implement the program and identify prevention strategies for the county.

The commission will meet at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St. Full agendas are available online at

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