Archive for Sunday, September 14, 1997


September 14, 1997


Lawrence's city government doesn't run by itself. More than 600 full-time employees -- and up to 250 part-timers -- provide basic city services.

Responsibility for maintaining smooth streets, flushable sewers, clean water, enjoyable parks and strong police and fire protection falls on the shoulders of hundreds of city employees.

The city of Lawrence employs more than 600 people in full-time jobs, from accountants to water system engineers. Another 70 to 250 part-time workers clean up parks, lifeguard at the Lawrence Aquatic Center and officiate city-league sports, among other responsibilities.

The man who hires them all -- either directly or indirectly -- is City Manager Mike Wildgen.

As the only staffer hired by the Lawrence City Commission, Wildgen is the city's chief administrative officer. He hires all department heads, ensures that laws and ordinances are enforced, advises commissioners about issues and policies, manages finances, recommends annual operating budgets and handles other duties.

One of his biggest jobs is overseeing the compilation of the city's annual budget, which for next year is set for $74.1 million. His phone number is 832-3400.

Wildgen's office oversees several departments, including:

PLANNING. The Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Office administers regulations and policies regarding current and long-range land use. The purpose: to provide for an efficient, economical, convenient and attractive community.

Linda Finger is the city's planning director, 832-3150.

HUMAN RELATIONS/HUMAN RESOURCES. The department serves as the city's agency for civil rights enforcement. The department investigates complaints from people who say they were discriminated against involving employment, housing or public accommodations because of their race, sex, religion, color, national origin, age, ancestry, sexual orientation or disability. The department also reviews city contracts and hiring practices to ensure compliance with laws and accepted goals.

Ray Samuel is the city's director of human relations/human resources, 832-3310.

ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES. The department handles all official records, and issues licenses for bars, restaurants and other businesses and operations. The department, through its risk management division, also handles all claims against the city for damages.

Ray Hummert, city clerk, is the city's director of administrative services, 832-3200.

FINANCE. The department pays the bills, and handles the city's accounting functions. It also handles utility billing.

Ed Mullins is the city's finance director, 832-3213.

INFORMATION SYSTEMS. The department handles the city's computer, telephone and geographic information systems.

Ron Hall is the city's director of information systems, 832-3320.

LEGAL SERVICES. The department handles the city's legal work -- whether it's writing ordinances, helping negotiate contracts, defending the city in court or condemning property for public needs. Municipal court also falls under the department's purview.

David Corliss is the city's director of legal services, 832-3400.

POLICE. The police department handles criminal enforcement, investigations and calls for service. Detectives handle investigations when extensive or detailed follow-up is required. Other services include community education, records keeping, internal affairs, animal control and school crossing guards.

Ron Olin is the city's police chief, 832-7501 (non-emergency).

LAWRENCE-DOUGLAS COUNTY FIRE & MEDICAL. The department represents the recent merger of the Lawrence Fire Department and the Douglas County Ambulance Service. Firefighters, paramedics and support staffers work to provide quick fire and medical responses to minimize losses.

Jim McSwain is the department's director, 832-7600 (non-emergency).

PUBLIC WORKS. The department is responsible for the maintenance of 272 miles of city streets, 81 traffic signals, 8,000 feet of runways at Lawrence Municipal Airport, eight public buildings and 13 miles of levee along the Kansas River, which also requires mowing 2,600 acres of property along the river. The engineering division must review and approve streets, sewers, sidewalks and drainage systems in the city.

George Williams is the city's director of public works, 832-3123.

PARKS AND RECREATION. The department administers, maintains and programs 3,100 acres of city parks, including landscaping responsibilities. The forestry division cares for trees in public parks and along city streets. Parks and recreation also operates two cemeteries -- Oak Hill and Maple Grove -- which together have more than 28,000 lots. Noxious weeds also are eradicated by city employees. The department's 32 parks include 59 basketball goals, two swimming pools, 24 ball diamonds and 26 tennis courts.

Fred DeVictor is the city's director of parks and recreation, 832-3450.

HOUSING AND NEIGHBORHOOD DEVELOPMENT. The department handles housing policy for the city, including the recent development of affordable homes near 24th Street and Haskell Avenue. Federal housing and neighborhood-improvement grants also flow through this department. The department also oversees the building inspections division, which ensures compliance with applicable protective codes and ordinances related to new construction, as well as lawn trash, junk cars, unsafe structures and other public nuisances.

Lynn Goodell is the city's director of housing and neighborhood development, 832-3109. Gene Shaughnessy is the city's chief building inspector, 832-3100.

UTILITIES. The department's mission is to provide the city with an adequate supply of clean and safe drinking water, and properly return the resource back to the environment after sufficient treatment. Last year, the city provided 3.77 billion gallons of treated water to its customers in Lawrence and surrounding areas, and treated more than 3 billion gallons of sewage.

Roger Coffey is the city's utilities director, 832-7800.

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