The swimming pool is off the hook, but various social service agencies aren't yet when it comes to city-ordered budget cuts.
City commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting agreed to not cut the hours of the city's indoor and outdoor aquatic centers in an effort to help shore up a troubled city budget.
Commissioners, though, said an across-the-board 6 percent budget cut for all outside agencies - organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club, The Salvation Army and Lawrence Community Shelter - are still on the table. The cuts would be for 2007, meaning the organizations would have to immediately adjust their spending for this year.
"I don't think we can get away from having some reduction in the budgets of these outside agencies," City Commissioner Rob Chestnut said.
But commissioners said they would discuss the issue some more. City-issued checks to most of the agencies are not scheduled to be sent until July 1. Mayor Sue Hack said she would like to have the issue settled within the next three weeks.
Hack and Commissioner Boog Highberger said they were particularly concerned about cutting the budget of many of the social service agencies.
"I've had one caller concerned that we're balancing the budget on the backs of the neediest in Lawrence, and I share some of that concern," Highberger said.
The city is trying to cut about $3.5 million from its budget to account for a projected shortfall of about $1 million in sales tax revenues and an expected slowdown in the growth of property tax receipts.
Commissioners were presented with one option to save about $16,000 by closing the indoor and outdoor aquatic center at 8 p.m. instead of 9 p.m. Monday through Friday. But commissioners were told they needed to make a decision on the issue immediately because the outdoor pool opens Saturday. Pool leaders needed to know what hours to tell patrons who will begin buying season passes.
The $16,000 in savings is equivalent to what some outside agencies are being ordered to cut from their budget.
Midge Grinstead, director of the Lawrence Humane Society, was at Tuesday's meeting urging the city to reconsider the 6 percent cut to her organization. That cut, coincidentally, amounts to $16,000.
"Normally, I would be up for the challenge, but we're in the middle of a $620,000 building renovation that is being required by the state, and we haven't raised all the money," Grinstead said.
Chestnut said people shouldn't read Tuesday's actions as a sign that city commissioners think the pool is more important than many of the social service and outside agencies. Instead, he said the commission was being to asked to make a decision on the pool with little time to consider the information.
"It was a bit of a unique situation," Chestnut said.