The Flame - March 2010

In this issue:

  • Census 2010: 10 Questions. 10 Minutes. Millions of Benefits.
  • How are your tax dollars used?
  • Annual Woodchip/Mulch Sale
  • Spring Break Safety Tips

Census 2010: 10 Questions. 10 Minutes. Millions of Benefits.

This spring, every person in Lawrence has an opportunity to give thousands of dollars to your local community...and it won’t cost you a dime!

April 1, 2010 is Census Day. The census is a count of everyone in the United States – both citizens and non-citizens. The U.S. Constitution requires a national census once every 10 years. The census will tally city, state and national populations that will determine representation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Census 2010

Every year, the federal government allocates more than $400 billion to states and communities based, in part, on census data. In Douglas County, that equates to over $180 million in grants that support our local community. Census data is used to determine locations for retail stores, schools, hospitals, childcare centers, senior service centers, new housing developments and other community facilities. Census data provides funding for highways, local transit, school lunch programs, grants for home rehabilitation, and education programs that keep our schools drug free. Please do your part to make sure Lawrence is completely counted!

A questionnaire will be mailed to your residence by April 1st. It is only 10 questions and takes about 10 minutes to complete. It is important to our local communities that you count yourself in Lawrence so our local agencies and organizations can continue to provide services our community uses on a daily basis.

Since Lawrence is a university community, it is important that students know they must complete both a state and federal Census. On the federal Census, students should denote where they live a majority of the year. Douglas County provides crucial support to our students and we need their support in helping provide funding to continue these services. For students, filling out the Census questionnaire is a way to keep giving to your University and community long after you have graduated.

The information you provide to the Census is kept completely confidential. No person, government agency or business has access to your individual information.

From May through June, if you do not mail your Census form back, a Census representative may visit your home to collect information. Census workers will clearly identify themselves as representatives of the Census and will be able to provide you with their identification.

Please return your Census questionnaire before April 1, 2010. By answering the 10 questions, you can make a difference in your local community. Your support can raise awareness of and encourage participation in this historic event. This is one clear example of how 10 minutes of your time can produce millions of benefits for your community – and it won’t cost you anything!

For more information on the Census, visit or visit

In 2008, Douglas County received funding for many programs through Census data. 

  • $26.6 million in medical help for low-income seniors, children, and people with disabilities
  • $3.6 million for highway infrastructure
  • $1.1 million for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) food program for low-income families
  • $5 million in funding for local families using food stamps
  • $1.7 million for the National School Lunch program to provide healthy meals to Douglas County kids
  • $626,133 in grant funding to rehabilitate homes in Douglas County or invest in energy saving solutions for local families
  • $798,320 in funding for community development programs and support to local non-profit agencies
  • $858,496 funding for the Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities Program
  • $87,730 in funding to provide emergency shelter loans or grants for persons needing assistance with utilities and rent
  • $1.9 million in funding for local small business loans

How are your tax dollars used?

Taxes used for many services including roads, public safety and recreation

The City of Lawrence utilizes tax dollars in a variety of ways. Each summer, the City Commission adopts the budget of the next fiscal year. Within that budget, 13 departments are funded which support hundreds of programs for the citizens of Lawrence. For 2010, the city mill rate remains at 26.6 mills and is based on an assessed valuation of all real property in the city of $853,676,870.

The General Operating Fund is the fund that accounts for most of the city’s service functions including police, fire and medical, maintenance of parks and recreation facilities, building inspection and code enforcement services. The General Fund accounts for 46.1% of the total authorized budget expenditures for 2010. The city’s overall budget is $157,260,736. Several other funds, such as the recreation fund and water and wastewater utilities fund, make up the remainder of the budget. There are 14 separate fund accounts; some of which may only be used for a specific purpose.

The complete 2010 budget and supporting documents are available online at

Sample Residential Tax Bill**
Property in the City of Lawrence
Appraised Value of Home $200,000
Assessed Value
(Appraised value x 11.5%)
Tax Unit 041 - Mill Levy $118.890
*Less USD Exemption $(46,000)
Total Tax Bill $2,688.47
Tax Breakdown Mill Levy Annual Taxes Paid
State of Kansas 1.5 $34.50
Douglas County 32.803 $754.47
City of Lawrence 26.693 $613.94
*USD 497 57.894 $1,285.56
  118.890 $2,688.47
*The first $20,000 of the appraised value of a residential property is exempt from the school general 20.000 mills. **Information provided by Douglas County; figures provided are for the 2010 budget cycle.

Annual Woodchip/Mulch Sale

Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department will hold its annual woodchip/mulch sale Thursday through Saturday, April 1-3, at the LPRD Forestry Division Facility, 1420 E. 11th St. The event occurs rain or shine.

The hours of the woodchip/mulch sale are Thursday, April 1, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Friday, April 2, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and Saturday, April 3, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The cost of the sale will be $10 per pickup load; the price will be increased for larger trucks. Patrons are asked to bring a tarp for their pickup to secure the woodchips, preventing them from littering the roadway as they drive from the facility.

Instead of purchasing woodchips throughout the year, Parks and Recreation recycles trees that are cut down throughout the city. The trees are then run through a chipper and used as mulch.

Woodchips, like mulch, are helpful to sustaining the growth of newly planted trees. They can also be used in vegetable or flower gardens. Spreading woodchips reduces the amount of water lost through evaporation, prevents excess run-off, restricts weed growth, and replaces valuable nutrients into the soil.

For more information, please contact Jim Beebe, forestry supervisor, at (785) 832-7979 or visit

Spring Break Safety Tips

Spring Break Safety Tips

As you plan your spring break or summer vacation plans, residents should keep in mind some common sense tips for protecting their home from unwanted guests while they are away.

The Lawrence Police Department offers residents the following tips for burglary prevention:

  • Stop newspaper and mail deliveries.
  • Securely lock all doors and windows. 
  • Use dead bolts and security lights.
  • Put lights and a radio or TV (on low volume) on automatic timers.  Set turn off/turn on times randomly.
  • Turn the ringer volume on the phone to low.
  • Don’t hide a key outside.
  • Don’t leave a message on your machine stating that you are out of town.
  • Mark your property and keep an inventory of your belongings.

For crime prevention information, please call the Neighborhood Resource Officers at (785) 830-7410 or e-mail