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Lawrence, Kan., Has Been Undercharging Downtown Businesses for Trash Collection

An audit conducted by city staff found that about 79 percent of downtown business are being charged incorrect rates.

In the city of Lawrence, Kan., nearly all downtown businesses fall under a special rate structure. But a recent audit conducted by city staff found that about 79 percent of those businesses are being charged incorrect rates, likely leaving thousands of dollars per month uncollected.

The city currently follows a 40-year-old method to determine trash collection rates for downtown businesses. Through the method, businesses and rates are divided into five tiers that range from $23 per month to $348 per month. But those prices are not always adjusted once a property becomes vacant or occupied or converted into a different type of business, which causes billing errors.

In an effort to overcome this problem, the city staff reported the errors to the City Commission and submitted a plan to study and revise the current rate structure for downtown businesses.

Lawrence Journal-World has more information:

The city has discovered it has been undercharging the majority of downtown businesses for trash collection, likely leaving thousands of dollars per month uncollected.

Nearly all downtown businesses fall under a special rate structure, and an audit conducted by city staff found that 150 of those businesses, or about 79 percent, are being charged incorrect rates. The audit found that that “almost all” the incorrect rates are lower than what should be charged and that the errors have likely accumulated over many years, according to a city staff memo.

The errors were reported to the City Commission earlier this month, along with a plan to study and revise the method used to determine trash collection rates downtown. City Manager Tom Markus said that formula, which was created 40 years ago, is complex and not easily applied. He said he thinks some mistakes were made years ago and carried forward.

Read the full story here.

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