The Board of County Commissioners reached a tentative agreement July 7 on an approximately $148.5 million budget for 2022. They agreed on a 1.008 mill levy increase, which brings the mill levy to 47.438 mills. The increase would cost the owner of a $200,000 home about $23 more a year.
The mill levy increase will cover $2.3 million in a cost transfer of ongoing expenses associated with the joint cooperation agreement between the City of Lawrence and Douglas County to finance the operation and maintenance of Lawrence-Douglas County Fire and Medical.
Douglas County received an increased number of funding requests for 2022, while also seeing a reduced rate of growth in total assessed valuation for real estate and personal property. The rate was 2.75% in 2021 compared to 4.82% the year before.
Commissioners Shannon Portillo, Shannon Reid and Patrick Kelly reviewed 71 funding requests totaling $10.1 million from Douglas County Departments and community partners and approved expanded services, planned behavioral health expansions and a cost transfer for Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical. Douglas County Departments and services that received new funding included:
- $142,868 for a human services navigation and assistance program manager, including $64,704 in community assistance funding in Administration.
- $100,000 for an employee compensation study and initial implementation.
- $100,000 to help the Sustainability Office develop an Open Space Plan that will help guide community leaders in decisions around use of land in unincorporated areas of the county.
- $54,573 for an accounting position in the County Clerk’s Office.
- $35,573 to fund a position in the County Clerk’s Elections Office. This employee will serve as a warehouse manager and provide technology support.
- $70,850 for a District Court programmer.
- $11,274 for additional expenses related to five new positions for Emergency Communications staffing. This proposal will include increased funding from the City of Lawrence.
- $150,000 for purchasing two mobile incident command dispatching units for Emergency Communications.
- $57,660 for a correctional officer in the Sheriff’s Office to assist with video court appearances.
- $51,340 for a cook for the Douglas County Correctional Facility.
- $96,345 for a planner in the Zoning and Codes Department.
- $500,000 was reallocated into the Capital Improvement Program to increase funding for roads, bridges and facilities.
Additionally, commissioners allocated $200,000 to expand Drug Court services and $425,000 for Institutional Indigent Defense services with Kansas Holistic Defenders. They also approved $1.1 million for market, merit and longevity pay for county employees.
For community partners, Commissioners approved $1.2 million in new funding requests, and they were:
- $62,000 to expand re-entry housing services in Douglas County that are provided by Artists Helping the Homeless.
- $183,600 to Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center for enhanced homeless services.
- $400,000 to Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center to implement a mobile access team.
- $37,500 to support 10 additional uninsured men in treatment through DCCCA, Inc.
- $25,000 to Just Food for increased operational support, moving total support from $25,000 to $50,000.
- $326,000 for a mobile crisis call center through Kansas Suicide Prevention Headquarters.
- $113,559 to the Lawrence Humane Society for enhanced animal code enforcement.
- $39,000 to help fund epidemiology and health equity staff at Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health.
- $25,000 to The Sexual Trauma and Abuse Care Center for increased operational support, moving total support from $5,000 to $30,000.
- $50,000 to The Willow Domestic Violence Center for new operational support.
- $30,000 to Trinity In-Home Care for increased operational support, moving total support from $90,000 to $120,000.
Additionally, Commissioners decided to reduce the Bioscience & Technology Center from $50,000 to $150,000. They also moved Heartland Community Health Center operations funding of $227,003 to the Commissioner budget for further review. District Court Legal Defense funds were reduced by $175,000 to $115,000 and placed with $250,000 in newly allocated funds for Institutional Indigent Defense with Kansas Holistic Defenders funding in the Commissioner budget.
Commissioners will review the budget during their July 21 business meeting. The budget will be adopted during a public hearing in late August or early September that will be held during a County Commission business meeting.
Video recordings of the budget hearings and deliberations are available on our YouTube channel: http://dgcoks.org/dgkscommrecordings
To view more information about the county budget: http://budget.douglascountyks.org.
Douglas County anticipates receiving $23.7 million in federal funding through the American Rescue Plan Act and received its first payment of $12 million in June. The county has three years to spend the one-time funding and will begin discussing potential use of the funding in late summer or fall. These funds are not included in the 2022 budget.
“This was a tough budget. There were so many moving parts,” County Administrator Sarah Plinsky said. “I’m so appreciative of the commissioners and their hard work and what they’ve accomplished.”