Lawrence council OK’s increased cumulative capital fund property tax


The Lawrence Common Council voted May 6 in favor of reestablishing the city’s cumulative capital fund and increasing the levy for property owners to 5 cents per $100 assessed value.

The vote was 8-1 with Councilor Rick Wells (D-District 2) casting the only no vote.

The fund is specifically for capital expenses. According to information from the city, the new rate is the maximum allowed under state law. It is separate from other property taxes.

The City of Lawrence had been collecting 2.5 cents per $100 assessed value for its cumulative capital fund.

According to the city, the increased cumulative capital fund tax will result in about $600,000 more annually for city capital projects. The city’s financial advisor told the council previously that the average homeowner would see an increase of about $30 annually.

During a public hearing on the new rate, Lawrence resident James Masur expressed concern about the impact of new property taxes on homeowners.

“I get that property taxes (pay) for services like roads, schools, and what have you — infrastructure — but I would encourage this council to use a very sharp pencil to make sure all that money that is derived from this or is freed up because you’re getting this money is appropriately accounted for and spent in a prudent manner,” he said. “Because, as I see it, these property taxes as they go up, they’re a trap for citizens because, unlike income tax where if you get injured on the job and are disabled, you don’t have to pay income taxes on your workers comp payments. Property taxes aren’t the same. You still have to pay them.”

Masur is married to Councilor Liz Masur (D-at-large), who voted in favor of the measure.

The council also voted unanimously in favor of a spending plan for the remaining $5.7 million of the city’s American Rescue Plan Act funds.

Lawrence received $11.2 million in 2021 through that federal COVID-19 relief program. The remaining funds will be spent to match a state grant, purchase police and fire response equipment and vehicles, purchase animal control transit vehicles and for other government services.

The money must be obligated, through contracts or other official means, by the end of 2024, and must be spent by the end of 2026. If the money is not obligated by the end of this year, it must be returned.

In other matters, the council postponed action on issuing general obligation bonds until its May 15 meeting. Public hearings are required before approving the two measures, but the hearings were not included on the council agenda.

One of the two ordinances related to general obligation bonds authorizes the city to issue bonds for future projects and doesn’t include a fiscal appropriation. The second ordinance would appropriate $7 million in bond funding for city expenses, such as equipment leases that currently are paid for through the operating fund or department budgets.

The next Lawrence Common Council meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. May 15 at Lawrence Government Center, 9001 E. 59th St. Meetings are livestreamed on the city’s Facebook page,