It's a sum representing about 4 percent of the city of Lawrence's overall budget and close to 10 percent of the general fund, the account from which myriad city departments get cash for day-to-day operations.
And it's the amount city commissioners will have to cut to keep the city solvent.
"I've heard it called the worst city budget year since World War II, and I believe it," City Commissioner Boog Highberger said.
Highberger and his fellow commissioners will make many hard choices as they finalize the city budget for 2004.
Nearly every one of those choices will have an effect on city services -- as well as everyone who lives in Lawrence.
Starting tonight on 6News and continuing in the Journal-World and at ljworld.com, we'll present "City in Crisis: The Cash Crunch."
The series will outline the budget proposals, show what programs will get cut, what programs will be saved, and what it means to Lawrence residents. We'll look at everything from employee benefits to park maintenance. We'll examine why budget cuts could have a devastating impact on nonprofit groups in the city and which services you'll pay more for next year.
And we'll go beyond the numbers to show you the human side of the decisions. From the people making them to those affected, we'll make sense of many of the hundreds of line items and dozens of programs that make up the 2004 budget.
What form the final budget will take is anybody's guess, but Highberger says one thing is certain.
|6News: Tonight, see how increases in health-care premiums will affect one city employee's family.Journal-World: In Wednesday's paper, take a look at the health-care proposals being considered.ljworld.com: Vote in our weekly polls to tell city commissioners what you think should be done. And see the results every Friday on 6News at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.Plus, you can make your voice heard in our Reader Reaction forum.|