The 2018 budget is guided by the City Commission’s strategic plan which contains seven critical success factors:

  • Effective Governance & Professional Administration
  • Safe, Healthy & Welcoming Neighborhoods
  • Innovative Infrastructure & Asset Management
  • Commitment to Core Services
  • Sound Fiscal Stewardship
  • Collaborative Solutions
  • Economic Growth and Security

Annual Budget Process

City staff begins the budget preparation in early February. The City Manager presented the recommended budget to the City Commission May 9 at a work session and an update was provided on June 13. In the following months feedback was collected and adjustments were made as necessary. Public input was provided online through Lawrence Listens and in-person during City Commission meetings. The budget hearing was August 1 and the budget was adopted on August 8. Here is the 2018 budget process calendar (PDF).

Get Involved

The budget process involves many constituents. The City used Lawrence Listens to collect feedback about budget priorities. The findings were presented on June 13, 2017 at the City Commission work session.

Outside Agency Funding

Each year, the City provides an opportunity for outside agencies and organizations to submit funding requests. The application to request funding for 2018 has now closed. The Social Service Funding Advisory Board and City staff have reviewed the applications. All recommendations for funding were included in the 2018 City Manager’s recommended budget. A full list of outside agency requests and adopted allocations can be found here.

For agencies that received funding in 2017, please note the reporting requirements are different from previous years. There is no longer a mid-year report due in July. There will only be a cumulative report due February 15, 2018. All reporting requirements are outlined in the agencies agreement with the City. Those agreements can be found online.

Additional Materials

Yes, this year there is only one application. Most of the questions are similar to previous years but we have merged the alcohol funds, non-alcohol funds, and economic development/vendor applications into one so a few questions might be new or phrased slightly different.

Additionally we have added a structured budget form and a structured revenue form.

Finally, the supplemental information (IRS Form 990, Financial Audit, and Annual Report) will be submitted at the time of the application and not collected at a later date.

Yes, the process has been moved up to accommodate the new budget process. All applications must be returned by March 31 at 5:00pm. All applications will be submitted through the website.
Yes, there is a question on the application that askes how your agency’s proposed program aligns with the critical success factors. Please note that these are different from previous years.
Most agencies will not be impacted by the updated classifications. The goal is to help align agency programs with the most appropriate review process.

For example, social service agencies will have their applications reviewed by the Social Service Funding Advisory Board. Intergovernmental agencies will submit a transmittal memo requesting funds from the City, similar to internal processes, and be reviewed by staff.
Staff will review all new applicants to determine what classification best aligns with the proposed program.

Budget Archives

Questions about past funding or budgets?


Frequently Asked Questions

Property owners in the City of Lawrence pay property taxes each year. These taxes support four government units: Douglas County, the State of Kansas, Unified School District #497, and the City of Lawrence. Each unit of government determines its own tax rate depending on needs.

Property tax rates are based on mills and are assessed through a mill levy. One mill is equivalent to $1 for every thousand dollars of assess property value. For 2015, most property owners within City limits have a mill levy rate of 130.992 mills.

There are three aspects to the City’s portion of property taxes. First, 19.475 mills are used to support the general fund (the main operating fund for the City). Second, 8.504 mills are used to support the debt service fund (the fund used to pay-off long-term debts such as general obligation bonds). Third, 4.039 is used to support the library fund (all revenue generated through this portion of the property tax goes to the Lawrence Public Library).

The last mill levy increase was 0.533 mills for the 2017 budget.
To calculate your estimated property tax bill, you need to know the approximate appraised value of your property. The total value of the house is then multiplied by the assessment rate of 11.5% for residential property or 25% for commercial/industrial property, to determine the assessed property value. Then apply the City mill levy rate.

For example, a house appraised at $100,000 would have an assessed property value of $11,500 ($100,000 X 11.5%). The City’s portion of the property tax on this house would be $361.65 ($11,500/$1,000 X 31.448).

Structural balance means revenues match expenditures. When expenditures exceed revenues there is structural imbalance.
The City uses debt financing to pay for large projects. This allows the City to stretch the payments in order to stay in balance with the long-term financial forecasts. For example, the debt service for a $1,000,000 project currently is estimated to costs $85,000 in debt service over 15 years. This also allows the City to match the cost associated with long-term projects to the expected life-span of the project.

The debt service is generally paid from a City levied property tax and therefore in order to keep the tax rate level, large projects are identified over five year periods in the City’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) and balanced to City financial forecasts. Adding or adjusting any of the projects in the debt funded portion of the CIP necessitates adjusting other CIP projects in order to keep the forecasts in balance.

The City is required to account for assets, liabilities, and operations using fund accounting. Fund accounting is a system that emphasizes the accountability of operations by dividing funds into a self-balancing set of accounts segregated for specific purposes in accordance with state laws and local regulations. The City utilizes several funds, each of which is used for a specified purpose. Except for a few specific exceptions, state law requires that funds are kept separate and revenue created for one purpose may not be used for another funds’ purpose. A listing of the various funds and their specified purposes is here.