Proposed Douglas County budget would increase property taxes for most residents

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Douglas County’s proposed budget for 2025 would keep property tax rates flat but increase taxes for most residents because valuations have increased.

The budget doesn’t eliminate any current county services or payments to more than 40 community organizations, according to a county news release.

Commissioners will also consider more than 50 funding requests totaling $20.1 million from county departments and community partners that aren’t included in the proposed budget, according to the release. (See the schedule of budget hearings and deliberations below.)

The proposed budget keeps the mill levy flat, at 44.208 mills. However, total assessed valuation of real estate and personal property countywide increased 6.8%.

The budget anticipates $211.14 million in expenditures for 2025, an increase of $12.41 million (6.25%) over the $198.73 million in 2024. Property tax revenue would make up about 42.6% of county revenues, according to numbers on the county’s Open Budget website.

“Sales tax revenues have grown during the past several years, which has led to an increased 2025 budget of $9.5 million in the general fund and $6.4 million in the behavioral health sales tax fund,” according to the release. “Interest income has also improved, providing $1.25 million more in revenue than the year before.”

The county’s operating budget has more than doubled since 2019, when it totaled $103.9 million, according to the website.

Lawrence residents also pay property taxes to the school district, city and state. The city had not yet released its proposed budget as of publication time, and the school district’s budget proposal is generally released in August or September.

Commissioners in April approved a pilot property tax rebate program, making residents ages 65 and up as well as some veterans with disabilities eligible to apply for rebates starting next year. Applications will be available Jan. 15 through April 15, according to documentation provided at the time. Read more about that at this link.

Budget hearings

County commissioners will hold budget hearings each morning next week, with deliberations possibly continuing into the following week.

Here’s the schedule for the budget hearings. All meetings will be held at the Douglas County Public Works building, 3755 E. 25th St. in Lawrence.

Day 1: Monday, July 8

Agenda; Zoom link

9 a.m. — Overview
9:30 a.m. — Emergency services: Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical, Emergency Communications Center, Emergency Management
10:30 a.m. — Justice system: District Court, Kansas Holistic Defenders
11:30 a.m. — Appraiser, county treasurer

Day 2: Tuesday, July 9

Agenda; Zoom link

9 a.m. — Behavioral health: Artists Helping the Homeless; Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center; DCCCA; Heartland Community Health Center; Heartland RADAC; Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health; Mirror Inc.; Cardinal Housing Network; Ninth Street Missionary Baptist Church. Also invited: HeadQuarters Kansas

10 a.m. — Targeted populations: O’Connell Children’s Shelter; Senior Resource Center; Sexual Trauma and Abuse Care Center; Willow Domestic Violence Center; City of Lawrence – Family Shelter Project; A Place for Everyone – local voucher program. Also invited: Court Appointed Special Advocates; Children’s Advocacy Center; Cottonwood Inc.; Independence Inc.; Center for Supportive Communities; Visiting Nurses Association; Jayhawk Area Agency on Aging; Trinity In-Home Care; Van Go

11 a.m. — Health and human services: Just Food; Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority; Housing Stabilization Collaborative; Salvation Army. Also invited: Lawrence Humane Society; Lawrence Community Shelter; Tenants to Homeowners

11:30 a.m. — Administration/core functions: Administration including employee benefits, IT and maintenance. Also invited: Sustainability

Day 3: Wednesday, July 10

Agenda; Zoom link

9 a.m. — Economic development: KU Small Business Development; Eudora Chamber of Commerce. Also invited: Economic Development Corporation; KU Innovation Park; Peaslee Tech

9:30 a.m. — Heritage and land management: Extension Council; Conservation District; Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area; Clinton Lake Historical Society; Historical Society / Watkins Museum of History; Eudora Historical Society; Lecompton Museum; Black Jack Battlefield. Also invited: Fair Board, Vinland Fair

10:30 a.m. — Infrastructure: Public works, zoning and codes

11:30 a.m. — Law enforcement — Sheriff

Commissioners will meet for a regular business meeting with a brief agenda at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 10 and then begin deliberations at 9 a.m. Thursday, July 11 (Zoom link). Deliberations will continue as needed from 9 a.m. to noon Friday, July 12 (Zoom link), and Monday and Tuesday, July 15 and 16.

They will hold budget hearings on the five-year capital improvement plan and for Consolidated Fire District No. 1 at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 7.

Again, all meetings will be held at the Douglas County Public Works building, 3755 E. 25th St. in Lawrence.

Commissioners will hold a public hearing and consider adopting the budget during their meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 28. Future meeting agendas will be posted at dgcoks.gov.

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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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Kaw Valley Almanac for July 15-21, 2024

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