About Special Assessments
Certified Special Assessments
Special assessments are charges, similar to taxes, placed on property because the property benefits from certain public improvements. Those public improvements may include, but are not limited to, streets, sidewalks, sanitary sewers, waterlines, and traffic signals. The special assessment process begins with the establishment of a benefit district by the Lawrence City Commission through the adoption of a resolution. The resolution describes the boundaries of the district, the proposed public improvement, the estimated cost of the public improvement, the amount of City financial participation, if any, in the public improvement, and the method of assessment of the costs of the public improvement to property within the benefit district. The resolution is usually adopted only after a public hearing on the proposed benefit district and notification to property owners. After the construction of the public improvement, the benefiting properties are assessed based on the resolution establishing the benefit district. These assessments are reflected in an ordinance adopted by the City Commission. For some projects, the City Commission adopts maximum special assessment ordinances prior to construction establishing the maximum assessments that can be placed on the property in the benefit districts. Properties may be in more than one special assessment benefit district if they benefit from more than one public improvement.
Pending Special Assessments
At any given time, there are a number of special assessment public improvement projects in various stages of completion. Some benefit districts have recently formed, other public improvement projects are under construction, while other improvements are finished and the special assessments are ready to be assessed to the benefiting properties. Special assessments are only certified to Douglas County for placement on property tax bills once a year. All of this means that there are a number of pending special assessment projects in addition to finalized special assessment projects that should be reviewed.
This does not include assessments for City Code violations, such as weed mowing. This also does not include assessments by Douglas County (e.g. sanitary sewer trunk line improvements may be assessed by Douglas County for certain property within the City of Lawrence.)
For information on City special assessments, please contact the City Clerk’s Office at (785) 832-3200.
For information on County special assessments, please contact the Douglas County Treasurer’s Office at (785) 832-5178.