The proposed 2022 Douglas County budget is $150 million with a mill levy of 48.198 mills, which is an increase of 1.768 mills from last year. One mill is one dollar per $1,000 dollars of assessed value. A 1.768 mill levy increase would cost the owner of a $200,000 home $40.66 next year.
The increased mill levy is being proposed to cover $2.8 million in a cost transfer of ongoing expenses associated with the joint cooperation agreement between the City of Lawrence and the county to finance the operation and maintenance of Lawrence-Douglas County Fire and Medical.
The proposed budget does not eliminate any current county services or $10.9 million in base funding for nonprofit organizations in the community. It does include funding for expanding criminal justice services such as Drug Court and other enhanced diversion programs as well as behavioral health services such as a mobile crisis team and additional substance abuse treatment for uninsured men.
About 70% of Douglas County’s revenues are from ad valorem taxes and 9% are from sales taxes. Total assessed valuation for real estate and personal property increased 2.75% in 2021 compared to 4.82% the year before. While there has been an increase in the assessed values of residential homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been some decreases in commercial, retail and industrial property values. This has led to a reduced rate of growth. County Administrator Sarah Plinsky said it was the lowest percentage increase in recent memory. Sales tax has remained steady during the past several years bringing revenues of approximately $7.3 million.
Douglas County Commissioners will review the proposed budget, which is available online at dgcoks.org/budget. They also will consider 48 funding requests totaling $3.3 million from Douglas County Departments and community partners that are not included in the proposed budget.
The budget hearings will begin at 9 a.m. Monday, June 28, with an overview from Plinsky. The hearings are scheduled to be held from 9 a.m. to noon June 28- July 1 and the public can attend in person or by using Zoom. Commissioners will begin budget deliberations at 9 a.m. Tuesday, July 6. Meeting information is available on the county’s website at dgcoks.org/commissionmeetings, where recordings of the hearings and deliberations also will be provided.
The budget will be adopted during a public hearing in August that will be held during a County Commission business meeting.
Douglas County anticipates receiving $23.7 million in federal funding through the American Rescue Plan Act and recently received its first payment of $12 million. 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 proposed budget.