The Lawrence Common Council received a presentation from Brandon Scruggs of Baker Tilly, a financial advisory firm, on the proposed 2023 budget at the Sept. 6 Common Council meeting.
The total proposed budget for 2023 is $25,346,466. Approximately 78 percent is earmarked for public safety. The police department is slated to receive $8.2 million, and the fire department is slated to receive $10.3 million.
The proposed budget is pending approval by the Finance Committee. The proposal will be brought up at the Sept. 21 meeting, which starts at 5:30 p.m. After that meeting, the proposed budget will be brought back to the common council for final approval.
Finance Committee President Shawn Denny said the budget is proposed to look out for the city employees as well as public safety.
“This is a balanced budget that’s been proposed. I think the council and administration are very proud of that, that we have a budget that is balanced with the revenues, and so they’re not spending more than they’re taking in,” Denny said. “So, that’s something we’re really proud of, and we’re able to take care of the citizens at the same time.”
In 2019, the City of Lawrence reached its goal of having 20 percent of operating reserves, which is money left over in the general fund that can be put toward larger projects. The goal with the new proposed budget is to have a fifth consecutive year with 20 percent of general fund operating reserves. The city is reaching a point it is looking to add a savings fund for its general reserves in the event of an economic downtown, Denny said.
Some of the notable projects that came out of the 2022 budget included construction of Fire Station 38, new pickleball courts at Lee Road Park, groundbreaking on the new Indiana Public Library Branch, the redevelopment of Civic Plaza with the Fort Harrison Reuse Authority partnership and the $1.7 million next legal trail grant awarded.
According to the proposed budget document, some of the 2023 budget objectives include; Expansion of marketing city events; continued development of the Trades District; starting design of the 75th & Oaklandon roundabout project; addressing drainage concerns; doing necessary repairs; expanding the Lawrence Police Dept.’s traffic unit to address complaints; upgrading police vehicles to Chevy Tahoes; investing in technology, such as cellular phone investigative tools and Flock cameras; leveraging critical crime-solving technology for officers and detectives; replacing Ladder 38’s firetruck; and repaving the parking lot and installing a playground at community park.