Archive for Wednesday, May 23, 2007

City’s budget cuts won’t change pool hours

May 23, 2007


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.


kshiker 10 years, 11 months ago

Cut the budget. Easy decision. What happens if you don't have enough money to pay the bills, the mortgage, the car payment and all other non-essentiall items in your household? You pay the essential, required items and you clamp down on the discretionary spending. The city should be no different than a private household.

kshiker 10 years, 11 months ago

And yes, this was a bad decision by the City Commission. If we are going to make an across-the-board cut to city government, then the swimming pools do not deserve to be spared from the knife. If you want to swim, then what is the problem with rearranging your schedule to get your swim in before 9:00 p.m. Even though $16,000 is not a great deal of money, this cut should have been made to keep the system of cuts uniform!

blackwalnut 10 years, 11 months ago

Many of these agencies operate very close to the bone as it is. They've already given up non-essentials.

Enough with the road "improvements." Cancel the "improvement" planned for George Williams Way.

How is it that a few weeks ago some of these same people were proposing a $30 million new library, and suddenly, now that the election is over, and Sue Hack wants to give us a new sales tax, the city is strapped for funds?

Things don't change that quickly.

Godot 10 years, 11 months ago

Corliss' plan is working. People will be convinced that they have to have that sales tax increase by next November, and Corliss will get another big raise for a job well done.

Confrontation 10 years, 11 months ago

I'd much rather see the Boys & Girls Club spared. I don't care about the Humane Society. There is much more at stake with today's children then with the puppies and kitties.

kshiker 10 years, 11 months ago

If you are upset about these agencies losing funding from the city, then get out your checkbook and write them a check. Whatever happened to private citizens being responsible for supporting these non-profits. I'm personally a supporter of the Humane Society, but that doesn't mean I think everyone else in the city should be during touch budget times. I write personal checks to the Humane Society because I believe in their mission. You should do the same for the affected agencies you believe in. Even if you can't afford any more than $25, if you round up 50 of your friends who feel that same way then the agency has received $1,250 in additional funding.

Raider 10 years, 11 months ago

If the pools are worrying about losing $16k, then why can't they simply add $.50 to the price of admission? $.50 is not a significant increase to the pool patrons, but when you add it up across the board it will more than make up the difference of $16k. Makes sense to me. Seriously, what's an additional $.50?

WWoftheW 10 years, 11 months ago

Keep an eye on whether this will be used as a scare tactic to get people to vote for the one cent sales tax so Sue's buddy Bonnie can have her P.L.A.Y.

Leprechaunking13 10 years, 11 months ago

Too bad that park is used by Parks and Rec as well, not to mention the skateboarders dambudzo. What would be put there?

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