The city will pay to keep on staff a housing specialist to help eliminate housing discrimination in Lawrence, the city commission decided Tuesday.
Special financing to pay the half-time salary of the human relations specialist for housing in the city's human relations department gained the unanimous support of the commission after members heard from the chairman of the city's Human Relations Commission, the head of the human relations department and representatives of local social service agencies.
Without the $9,020 in funding, the staff position would have been eliminated after May 17. Salary for the position has been paid by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. That financing likely would have been lost if the position had been cut.
Commissioners also agreed to consider increasing the position to full time from half time in the 1992 budget year. That budget is now being formulated.
"FAIR HOUSING, commissioners, is part of the local law and we should not have to depend on HUD," said Ray Samuel, director of the city's human relations department. "This is not just a need of the human relations division, this is a need for the community that has been well demonstrated."
He said his requests were being made after years spent trying to get financing from other sources. Those sources have included the city's Community Development Block Grant program.
The local committee that allocates the CDBG money announced Monday that it would not recommend financing for the position. Community Development Director Lynn Goodell explained the committee's decision to deny the request in a city hall memorandum to Samuel. The memo was dated Tuesday.
"The CDBG Advisory Committee did not recommend to the City Commission any funding for your request for CDBG funds because the Fair Housing Assistance Program appears to be something the city should be doing whether or not the CDBG program exists," Goodell wrote.
THE PROGRAM is aimed at educating residents and housing providers about the law and handling complaints.
While it handles hundreds of complaints each year, that number has dropped off since the position was cut to half time in July 1988. Because the level of HUD financing is dependent on the number of cases handled each year, that has put those funds at risk, Samuel said.
Much of the commission discussion was aimed at trying to wade through the confusing snarl of local and federal financing the department uses to pay the staff member's salary. All agreed the position should be continued at half time, and concurred with City Manager Mike Wildgen's recommendation that they not increase the position to full time in the current year.
IN OTHER action, commissioners unanimously:
Received minutes of various boards and commissions.
Approved payment of expenses totaling $591,601 and payroll totaling $551,415.
Accepted bids for deferred loan rehabilitations for 333 Elm, 746 Conn., 1244 Haskell, 637 Miss., and 1325 E. Glenn Dr.; and for a voluntary demolition program for several buildings and trees.
Set May 7 as bid date for lightbars for police department vehicles.
Set May 14 as bid date for water line improvement on Louisiana from 23rd Street to 27th Street.
Approved on first reading an ordinance allowing parking from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday on the east side of the 1400 block of Massachusetts.
Approved on first reading an ordinance changing the name of Hartland Drive in Pioneer Ridge West No. 1 and No. 3 to Woodland Drive.
Approved on first reading an ordinance removing parking on the east side of Mississippi Street for 200 feet north of 11th Street.
APPROVED on first reading an ordinance establishing a bus loading zone on the south side of Jayhawk Boulevard near Marvin Hall at Kansas University.
Approved on first reading an ordinance installing a stop sign on Second Street Terrace at Michigan Street.
Approved on first reading an ordinance annexing about 30 acres into the city. The property is southeast of the city between Prairie Park and Mary's Lake, west of County Road 1600E.
Approved on first reading an ordinance authorizing the issuance of $6.27 million in taxable industrial revenue bonds to Packer Plastics Inc. and related documents. This item was omitted from the agenda as originally published.
After removing these items from the consent agenda for individual discussion, commissioners unanimously:
Received minutes of the April 16 city commission meeting as amended by Commissioners Bob Schulte and John Nalbandian.
APPROVED a resolution authorizing the public sale of $1.54 million principal amount of general obligation bonds. The bonds would finance the 1991 curb and overlay program; park projects; and some benefit district improvements.
Authorized the city manager to sign an engineering design and construction services contract up to $280,000 with Evans Bierly Hutchison and Associates, Lawrence, for 1991 wastewater collection improvements. The design would be for improvements to the Kentucky Lift Station and water line improvements in three areas.
Unanimously approved a site plan for a parking and fuel area to serve the Lawrence Bus Co. The property is on the southwest corner of Ninth and Delaware streets.
Unanimously approved setting a public hearing for 7 p.m. May 28 to hear a request from First Fuel Bank, in the 900 block of Iowa, to waive distance requirement for selling cereal malt beverage within 400 feet of a school or church. City staff reported that the First Fuel Bank was about 275 feet of the Jewish Community Center, 917 Highland Dr.
UNANIMOUSLY approved receipt of a letter requesting a benefit district for Tiffany Addition, east of Monterey Way and south of Perry Park, and directed city staff to prepare a report.
Unanimously approved directing the city attorney to prepare proper legal documents and provide public notice for a hearing regarding vacation of an easement on a lot in Monterey Subdivision No. 2, Lot 109. This item was not on the agenda as published.
Directed city staff to prepare a report on a request from Robert Merkel that the city allow privatization of escort services for funerals, house moving, parades and other processions. City police now provide the service for such activities.
Received a letter from Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center requesting a city-county commission tour of the center.