After being blasted for what some considered a last-minute change in the rules, the Lawrence City Commission on Tuesday approved a citizen committee's recommendations for allocating Community Development Block Grant funds.
"The unanticipated violation of the publicly understood procedures by the city manager, with his last-minute recommendations of funding for another, albeit worthy group, made our citizen participation a travesty," said Betty Dutton of the Kaw Valley Older Women's League.
A commission-ordered round of budget slashing last week left Dutton's organization with no financing in the 1991 CDBG budget. Eight other organizations' original allocations also were cut.
CDBG funds are allocated by the federal government to assist low- and moderate-income residents and to eliminate slum and blight in targeted neighborhoods.
THE CITIZEN committee accepts requests and makes recommendations to the city commission regarding how to spend its allocation.
Last week, commissioners followed a recommendation from City Manager Mike Wildgen and ordered the committee to revise its budget to allow financing of Douglas County Legal Aid. The revised budget made room for a $13,891 allocation for Legal Aid. The committee originally had recommended that the legal services agency be cut from the CDBG budget and financed from the city's general fund, a property tax fund.
"Just to shift $16,000 from one fund to another is easy for them, it's not so easy for us," said Commissioner Bob Schumm. "We also have to consider the mill-rate levy. . . . That is one of our main responsibilities, and we have to be careful of it."
Commissioner Bob Schulte said that after similar experiences the past two years, the CDBG advisory committee "might have anticipated (the Legal Aid question) coming up again. Because it didn't, it created a difficult situation."
COMMISSIONERS agreed they would set guidelines for the advisory committee's work next year. This year, the committee spent about four months sifting through requests for shares of the city's $785,207 CDBG allocation.
Also Tuesday, commissioners unanimously approved a request to rezone about 9.8 acres for a new Wal-Mart store on the east side of Iowa at 33rd, north of Sonny Hill Motors.
Commissioner John Nalbandian pointed out comments from planning commission chairman Dave Evans that site planning for the current Wal-Mart was "atrocious" because of its failure to provide greenspace and landscaping and his hope that the new site would not be completely covered with asphalt. Other commissioners echoed the concern.
"We consider ourselves on notice," said John Lungstrum, a Lawrence attorney who represented Wal-Mart.
In other action, on one motion on these consent agenda items, commissioners unanimously:
Received minutes of various boards and commissions.
Approved payment of 189 expenses totaling $352,299.
Reviewed bids for lightbars for police vehicles.
Approved on final reading an ordinance adding car washes as a permissible ancillary use to service stations and convenience stores in C-2 (neighborhood shopping) zoning districts.
Approved on final reading an ordinance rezoning 30 acres east of Prairie Park and west of Lawrence school district property and County Road 1600E from A (agricultural) to RS-1 (single-family residence) to be used as city park land.
Approved on final reading an ordinance rezoning lots 1-6, Tiffany Addition No. 2, from RS-1 (single-family residence) to RS-2 (single-family residence). The property is on the east side of Monterey Way between Harvard and 15th.
Approved on final reading an ordinance establishing a 35 mph speed limit on Kasold between Harvard and 15th.
Approved a resolution prescribing the form and details of the delivery of $1.545 million of general obligation bonds.
Approved authorization for mayor to sign a mortgage release for Henry Beers, 512 Locust.
After removing these items from the consent agenda for individual discussion, commissioners:
On a 4-0-1 vote, with Schulte abstaining, approved on final reading an ordinance rezoning about 22 acres to RM-1 (multifamily residence) from A (agricultural). The property is east of the southeast corner of Wakarusa and Kansas Highway 40. Schulte abstained to avoid a potential, business-related conflict of interest.
Unanimously approved accepting bid from Boatmen's National Bank, St. Louis, for the sale of $1.545 million in general obligation bonds. The rate is 5.689032 percent.
Unanimously approved declaring an emergency to pass an ordinance on first and final readings authorizing the issuance and delivery of $1.545 million in general obligation bonds to finance street, storm sewer, sanitary sewer, park and sidewalk improvements. The ordinance also allows the city to levy and collect taxes to pay the principal and interest on the bonds. The emergency declaration is used to save the city one week of interest on the bonds.
Unanimously approved the preliminary capital improvements plan for the city for 1992-1997.
Unanimously approved authorizing mayor to sign letter of intent in support of Lawrence Indian Center Inc. as facilitator of the Issues Management Project, a two-year pilot program.
On these regular agenda items, commissioners:
Unanimously approved a petition requesting a vacation of utility easement in Monterey Subdivision No. 2
Unanimously approved a site plan for the Lawrence school district support center to be located at 3705 Clinton Pkwy. The site is the former Elks Lodge.
Unanimously approved an application for area markers for The Heritage at Alvamar, Heritage Drive and Nicklaus Drive at Inverness.
On a 4-1 vote, with Mayor Bob Walters dissenting, rejected a request to begin licensing and regulating private mobile escort services. Commissioners received a staff report and comment from the applicant's representative. A former police officer had asked the city for permission to provide private escorts for activities as parades and funerals. The city police department now provides the service free of charge.
Unanimously approved a site plan for Midwest Motors, 629 N. Second. The site plan will be reviewed for compliance after 90 days.
Unanimously approved directing the city's minimum housing inspector to inspect Midwest Motors for housing code violations and environmental hazards.