Douglas County Commission to consider budget that increases property taxes, Housing First grant

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A slight increase in property tax rates and a grant of $500,000 toward addressing homelessness are on the Douglas County Commission’s agenda Wednesday. 

Key points: Commissioners will —

• Discuss the county budget for the 2022 fiscal year, the 2022-2026 capital improvement plan, and whether local property taxes should be raised.

The proposed budget for next year is $148.5 million, which includes a small increase in property taxes. The owner of a home appraised at $200,000, roughly the median home value in Lawrence, would pay approximately $23 more per year in property taxes under the plan.

Some of the most expensive of the newly proposed budget allocations include $1.1 million toward county employee pay, and $1.2 million toward community organizations including Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center, the Lawrence Humane Society, Artists Helping the Homeless, and Kansas Suicide Prevention Headquarters. They also include $500,000 toward the county’s capital improvement plan.

The budget will also fund several new county positions, such as a new programmer in District Court, a new correctional officer in the Sheriff’s Office, and five new Emergency Communications employees. 

Commissioners will hold a public hearing over the budget, which gives residents one last chance to voice opinions on it before it goes to a vote. 

• Consider a grant agreement for the Housing First Pilot Project for $500,000. 

The Housing First project is a partnership of the city of Lawrence and Douglas County to address housing insecurity in the community. If approved, the project would include efforts such as a $200,000 housing voucher program and behavioral health services. 

The agreement for this one-time funding has been approved by the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services (KDADS). It was made possible by American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding to the state to ease the burden on vulnerable populations from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Find the full meeting agenda here

The meeting will take place at 5:30 p.m. both virtually via Zoom and in person at the Douglas County Courthouse. Join virtually by entering meeting ID 954 6062 7606, dialing  1-312-626-6799 or clicking the above link. 

Public comment can be provided either in person at the courthouse or via Zoom. Each person can provide one comment per agenda item, either in person or virtually. 

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