Archive for Thursday, June 8, 1995

CONSOLIDATION OF TASKS TOPS COUNTY GOALS LIST

June 8, 1995

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A proposal to merge some city and county functions is on the Douglas County Commission's back burner for now.

A proposal to study potential consolidation of redundant operations for Douglas County and the city of Lawrence won't get serious consideration until after the 1996 budget is approved in August.

Consolidation was on a list of goals for the coming year that Commissioner Jim Chappell offered to fellow commissioners during their Wednesday night meeting. Chappell says he sees opportunities to share resources for law enforcement and public works.

But Commission Chairman Louie McElhaney said county staff already was tied up with preparing the 1996 budget and wanted to postpone any discussions.

Chappell said he wasn't disappointed and hadn't expected the commission to take action on any of his proposals Wednesday night. On some of the goals, Chappell said it's likely the commission could only make a beginning over the next 12 months.

``It's going to take years and years to get that accomplished,'' he said of the consolidation concept.

All but two of Chappell's goals were well-received by fellow commissioners. McElhaney said he wasn't interested in diverting funds designated for replacing the bridge just west of Eudora on Douglas County Road 442 into a project to pave East 15th Street, also known as North 1500 Road, from Lawrence to Eudora.

``I don't think we could pave 15th Street for what it would cost to replace that bridge, and I think it would be a disaster if we did close that bridge,'' McElhaney said, citing concerns about local traffic.

Then, Commissioner Mark Buhler, who has been the county's point man on the South Lawrence Trafficway, balked at Chappell's suggestion that he also take a more direct role in planning for the Eastern Parkway. He said the county would bear no responsibilities for any of that project's costs.

``I look forward to the city taking the lead on the Eastern Parkway,'' Buhler said.

Other goals the commission will consider are creation of a capital needs plan; letting Baldwin operate its own ambulance service; finding a site near the future junction of Iowa Street and the trafficway for a new Douglas County Ambulance Service station; studying space needs for departments that have offices in the Douglas County Courthouse; studying township financing for road maintenance; and continuing to pursue an agreement with the city of Lawrence to lift the cap on rural water meters.

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