Douglas County may have to pay city of Lawrence $263K in overhead for Fire Medical

photo by: Mackenzie Clark

Left to right, Douglas County Commission Vice Chair Patrick Kelly, Interim County Administrator Sarah Plinsky, Commissioner Nancy Thellman and Commission Chair Michelle Derusseau look over a schedule of 2020 budget hearings during the commission's work session on June 19, 2019.

Budget hearing schedule updated at 3:08 p.m. Monday, July 1:

Based on a change to the city of Lawrence budget, Douglas County may have to chip in an extra $263,067 in overhead for Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical in 2020.

Next year, the city will move its human resources, information technology, finance administration and risk management into an internal service fund, according to the city manager’s proposed budget. The city’s operating funds will pay into the internal service fund based on usage.

The city and county jointly fund some departments, including the emergency services of LDCFM and the planning department. Currently, the city provides 74.36% of LDCFM’s funding and the county provides 25.64%. Staff members from both entities have begun renegotiating that agreement.

Interim Douglas County Administrator Sarah Plinsky said that to her knowledge, the internal service fee was not applied to the planning department for 2020; however, those costs were added for LDCFM.

“This has been a topic of conversation for us as we’ve been negotiating the Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical agreement, but we had not reached consensus on what our small group thought on this yet, and so therefore have not brought it forward to the individual governing bodies,” Plinsky said. “We’re still very much in the discussion phase of those agreements, so this was a little bit of a surprise for us.”

Essentially, the change would transfer some administrative costs from city of Lawrence taxpayers to Douglas County taxpayers as a whole, Plinsky said.

“It was not specifically pointed out to us when we put our budget proposal together. We found out relatively late in the budget process that that amount had been included,” Plinsky said.

She said the county does not charge the city overhead.

Plinsky’s proposed budget keeps the mill levy flat at 46.015 mills — meaning that the owner of a $200,000 home pays about $1,058 annually in property taxes to Douglas County. Within that budget, the county would only be able to provide $316,000 toward the $897,400 that LDCFM requested from the county for capital improvements.

Commissioners could choose to raise property taxes to contribute the remaining $581,400 for LDCFM’s capital improvements. It would mean a 0.41 mill increase — that’s roughly $9.43 to the owner of a $200,000 home. Under state law, often called the “tax lid,” the county can increase property taxes without a public vote for most public safety expenses.

During the Douglas County Commission’s Wednesday work session on the budget, Commissioner Nancy Thellman asked whether someone from the city would be present during budget hearings next week to discuss the internal service fee. Plinsky said she would try to arrange that as part of the commission’s budget deliberations, slated for 8:30 a.m. to noon Monday, July 1; 8 to 10 a.m. Wednesday, July 3; and 1:30 to 5 p.m. Monday, July 8.

Plinsky also shared a full schedule of budget hearings, which she broke down thematically by types of service. Hearings will be held from approximately 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday and 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, June 24-27. The full schedule is below.

photo by: Mackenzie Clark

Interim Douglas County Administrator Sarah Plinsky, left, discusses her proposed 2020 budget during the Douglas County Commission’s work session on June 19, 2019. Also pictured are Commissioner Nancy Thellman (center) and Commission Chair Michelle Derusseau.

In other business, commissioners:

• Approved a contract with Arizona-based CXNS Health Strategies for consulting and technical assistance on behavioral health projects. The cost is not to exceed $115,000.

• Approved a contract for LMH Health to provide project management services for the development of the Crisis Intervention Center on the behavioral health campus. Costs for the service are not to exceed $72,000 in 2019 and $126,000 in 2020.

• Approved a site plan for McFarlane Aviation Manufacturing to expand, including the addition of a 24,000-square-foot building.

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Douglas County 2020 budget hearing schedule

Schedule updated at 12:45 p.m. Friday, June 21:

Monday, June 24:

• 9:30 a.m.: Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical

• 10:30 a.m.: Criminal Justice Services

• 11:15 a.m.: Infrastructure — Public Works, Zoning and Codes

• Noon: District Court

Tuesday, June 25:

• 8:30 a.m.: Emergency services — Emergency Communications Center and Emergency Management

• 9 a.m.: Douglas County Sheriff

• 10 a.m.: Economic development — Lawrence Chamber, Baldwin Chamber, Bioscience and Technology Business Center, Dwayne Peaslee Technical Training Center

• 10:45 a.m.: Youth services — Van Go, CASA, Children’s Shelter, Legal Aid, Criminal Justice Services

Wednesday, June 26:

• 8:30 a.m.: Behavioral Health Leadership Coalition — Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center, DCCCA, LMH Health, Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority, Heartland Community Health Center, Heartland RADAC, Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department

• 9:30 a.m.: Aging services — Jayhawk Area Agency on Aging, Senior Resource Center for Douglas County, Trinity In-Home Care, Visiting Nurses Association

• 10:15 am.: Land and animal services — Douglas County Extension Office, Douglas County Conservation District, Lawrence Humane Society

• 11 a.m.: Safety net — Douglas County Dental Clinic, Emergency Services Council, Sexual Trauma and Abuse Care Center, Just Food, Lawrence Community Shelter, Cottonwood Inc., Independence Inc.

Thursday, June 27:

• 9 a.m.: Land record and taxation — Douglas County Clerk, County Treasurer, Register of Deeds, Appraiser, IT

• 9:30 a.m.: Internal services — Administration, Sustainability, Maintenance, IT

• 10:15 a.m.: Historical services — Heritage Conservation Council, Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area, Black Jack Battlefield Trust, Clinton Lake Historical Society, Douglas County Historical Society, Eudora Area Historical Society, Lecompton Historical Society, Santa Fe Trail Historical Society

• 11 a.m. — RIT/Eudora EMS

Monday, July 1:

• 8:30 a.m.: District attorney

The commission meets at the Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St.

Related coverage: City/county partnership for Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical

June 19, 2019: Douglas County may have to pay city of Lawrence $263K in overhead for Fire Medical

June 8, 2019: Fire Medical chief finalists say recruitment will be big challenge for department

April 12, 2019: Town Talk: A conversation with Mayor Lisa Larsen on city-county cooperation, a new fire chief, downtown growth

March 13, 2019: Douglas County leaders: ‘Desire is there’ to work with City of Lawrence on Fire Medical chief hire

March 6, 2019: Douglas County Commission: City of Lawrence plan to hire Fire Medical chief is not in ‘spirit of cooperation’

March 1, 2019: City begins search for new chief of fire and medical department

Jan. 9, 2019: Douglas County commissioners: Timeline too quick to finish negotiations on emergency services funding

Nov. 13, 2018: Discussions to begin regarding funding agreement for fire and medical services

Nov. 12, 2018: Lawrence City Commission to review funding agreement for fire and medical services

Sept. 19, 2018: Douglas County leaders not interested in unified government but willing to review agreements with Lawrence

Aug. 15, 2018: As fire and medical response times slow, city leaders discuss adding another station


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