Archive for Monday, August 1, 2011

During Tuesday night Lawrence City Commission budget talks, Bob Schumm to propose funding fewer new police officers

August 1, 2011


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The dickering is not done yet.

Lawrence city commissioners are set to finalize their 2012 budget Tuesday. But commissioners are indicating there will be a last-minute proposal to cut back on a planned expansion of the city’s police force, in an effort to limit a property tax increase.

City Commissioner Bob Schumm confirmed that he plans to present a proposal that would add only two new police officers instead of the four recommended by City Manager David Corliss. By cutting back on the police expansion, Schumm said, the city could drop the proposed mill levy increase from 1.88 mills to 1.7 mills. The 1.7 mills was approved by voters to fund an expansion of the Lawrence Public Library.

“This will get us to an amount that is no more than the voters approved,” Schumm said.

The proposal will draw debate. City Commissioner Hugh Carter said he was still learning about details in the proposal, but didn’t like the sound of it.

“I have felt from the get-go that the Police Department has taken a back seat for a long time,” Carter said. “Now it looks like we’re not even making the gesture that we’re working to get to where we need to be.”

But Schumm said he will propose that the city plan to add two new officers per year until staffing reaches an adequate level. New Police Chief Tarik Khatib has said the department could use 10 or more officers to get to adequate levels.

“Two is a good number to start with, and if we keep doing that, we’ll have several new officers in a few years,” Schumm said.

Commissioners, though, can’t formally commit on Tuesday to hire new police officers in future years. A current commission can’t bind a future commission, so any new hiring will have to win at least three votes each year.

Mayor Aron Cromwell said he was leaning toward supporting Schumm’s proposal, but does have some concerns.

“I definitely think we do need more police officers,” Cromwell said. “But I see some logic in trying to maintain the mill levy where it is at. I think what is important is that we make a commitment to continue adding in the future.”

Carter said the amount of savings in Schumm’s plan is minimal. It would reduce the mill levy increase by 0.18 of a mill, which would reduce the property tax bill on a $200,000 home by $4.14 per year.

“I know we can find that savings elsewhere,” Carter said.

Both Schumm’s plan and Corliss’ recommendation would continue to fund an existing detective position that currently is funded with a federal grant, which is expiring.

In other city budget news, commissioners are expected to debate some fee increases.

Carter said he is opposed to a staff recommendation to increase a system development fee that is charged on new construction that connects to city water and sewer service. The fee has been in place since the 1990s, and is designed to help the city pay for infrastructure projects that are caused by new growth.

For 2012, the city is proposing to increase the one-time fee by 11 percent, or an additional $340. Carter said such an increase would be sending the wrong message as builders in the community already have been hit hard by the economy.

“Housing is such a critical element to our economy,” Carter said. “As a government, there is a not a lot we can do to create jobs, but we can help create an environment to support economic development.”

Cromwell said he’s reluctant to go against staff’s recommendation on the system development charges. He said the city’s analysis shows the fees really ought to be higher than what’s being proposed. He said if the city doesn’t keep the fees at an appropriate level, it could make it more difficult for the city to start new infrastructure projects once the economy does pick back up. The biggest project on the horizon is a new sewage treatment plant south of the Wakarusa River.

“The builders who are impacted by the increase in this fee right now will be the ones who scream the loudest if that plant isn’t built on time,” said Cromwell.

Commissioners haven’t yet committed to a date to build the multimillion-dollar plant, but rather have said they want to wait until the city’s population growth rebounds.

Commissioners also are set to approve several other fee increases, including:

• A 2 percent increase in water rates and a 2 percent increase in sewer rates.

• A 2.7 percent increase, or about 40 cents per month, for residential trash service.

• A $7 increase in the city’s Municipal Court fee. The new fee, which represents the court costs that are added onto a ticket, will total $60, if approved. The new court fee would go into effect Sept. 1.

City commissioners will meet at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday at City Hall.


Machete 2 years, 8 months ago

We need more than 2 officers to defend us from Obama's sidekick Biden's claim that Teaparty terrorists are going to get us. We need a candlelite vigil in South Park to force these comms to hire more police officers.


Tony Kisner 2 years, 8 months ago

Seems the city is discounting the positive effect of the new library. The new facility will enhance the citizenry’s knowledge and understanding. Such an enlighten populace should reduce the number of larcenist, jaywalkers and other ne’er-do-wells. Thus reduce the required number of policy officers. Although there is a new Dunkin Doughnuts coming to town. (Way too easy)


smitty 2 years, 8 months ago

That armored vehicle is Olin's terrorist mentality still at work on our LPD and the city's budget.

Re.. armor power equal or more than the enemy..oopps...the criminals....remember the officer outside of Last Call who explained that the LPD couldn't go into the club because the club goers were heavier armed than the LPD and put the LPD in too graet a jeopardy to enforce the laws???

More Olin terrorism BS continued into the current discussions.

Olin was the one who touted how great it is that Lawrence can be a "safe" neutral meeting grounds for what turned out to be too great an armored force for the LPD to safely over see and police. More Olin propagada to justify his terrorism slant and the hardware it takes to support his failed terrorism career ambitions.

We have a chance to clean up Olin's mismagement along with the city commissioner's complicity now.

Khatib spent his entire 20 years on the LPD. Hired in the after math of of the most corrupt cover ups in the history of Olin. All of Khatibs years are under the mentorship of failed terrorist expert, Olin. Khatib need to learn to think on his own on the big issues which hasn't happended yet. The commission needs to get a grip on reality.


smitty 2 years, 8 months ago

Parking meters down town were increased recently for the explicite purpose of money to hire new officers...where's that in this debate?


Iwetmypants 2 years, 8 months ago

For all the seemingly intelligent people in Lawrence, we sure have a difficult time not thinking like a small town. Do we really need to fix this problem using only one option, hiring more government service employees?

I am against any increase of personal in the police or fire departments. The city of Lawrence needs to focus on increasing private sector jobs NOT increasing government jobs.

This is not a difficult problem to fix. Downtown merchants want increased police patrols. I suggest DMA hire their own security department similar to what they do at the Plaza in KC. Win Win. We citizens get a tax break, the Downtown gets more security and this issue is now a revenue generator and not a bigger tax drain.

BTW, This idea is a freebe. I will not be billing the city for my consutation.


optimist 2 years, 8 months ago

I find it difficult to form an opinion on an issue from information garnered from a news article so lacking in detail. If it is important enough to write a story about then it should be worthy of taking the time to conduct the research. Otherwise it's just stirring up emotions. Thanks Chad Lawhorn.

Information that includes quantifiable data would be helpful. How many man hours are required to police Lawrence around the clock? How much of it is done with overtime? What does the cost of new police officers do to the cost of overtime? Crime trends as well as staffing trends. Comparisons of the Lawrence community, police department, crime rates, etc. and that of other similar cities might give some perspective. I could go on and on.

At this point this story was an absolute waste of time to write. It reads more like a soap opera.


Sigmund 2 years, 8 months ago

Recently there was $300,000 reduction in what the city spends each year to replace aging fire equipment despite the infrastructure sales tax voters approved in 2008 and the city agreed to spend about $500,000 of sales tax money each year to purchase new fire equipment.

This cut to the City fire department was approved by Mr. Schumm despite the fact that he received corporate welfare for new sprinklers in the form of tax payer subsidies. Here are the other private businesses who got corporate welfare for their fire sprinklers:

Tellers, 746 Mass: George Paley Lawrence Masonic Temple, 1001 Mass: Consolidated Properties, aka Doug Compton Buffalo Bob's, 719 Mass: Bob Schumm Goldmakers, Peter Zacharias The Bayleaf, 725 Mass: Anne Yetman The Casbah, 803 Mass, David Millstein Hobbs, 700 Mass, Mark Swanson Silverworks and More, James & Cara Connelly

At a Online Round Table on the future of downtown I asked Mr. Schumm, Mr. Compton, and Mr. Paley some questions:

Does the recent cut to the fire protection in the City of Lawrence, in spite of the the clear intention of the voters and promises of the Commissioners, concern downtown landowners less because they have taxpayer subsidized sprinklers? Do Commissioner Schumm, Mr. Paley, and Mr. Compton favor a special tax on all their properties to pay back those subsidies to mitigate the recent $300,000 reduction all of Lawrence now face in 2011?

But somehow, cub reporter and PR hack Chad Lawhorn, never got around to asking any of them!

Bottom line? The police station is located downtown and although a few new officers would significantly decrease the response time to other parts of Lawrence, the response time downtown would not be significantly improved.

Isn't it about time the the downtown landlords and businesses start to give back to Lawrence Community for all that we do for them? Let's start with an additional 1% special tax on downtown businesses to help fund a few new police officers.


bootlegger 2 years, 8 months ago

They have nice looking police cars!! huh? what hump?


somedude20 2 years, 8 months ago

Funny, all of the stories that I have heard about Blobby from the 80's kind of make this story funny......hey I love Coke too Blob as Pepsi stinks!


Gene Ramp 2 years, 8 months ago

Penny wise and pound foolish IMO


TheBigW 2 years, 8 months ago

(quote)Why does the chief want to purchase a military grade Armored Personnel Carrier? (Yes, it is on his list of requests) And you want trust all his views of staffing levels?(quote)

Most likely planing on getting some of that gubberment drug war monies to fund it, that way they have a new toy show off to the public (help you feel all safe like) & to play with on all the K2 raids their planing..... guess is you'll see it parked through a window in a downtown business with in weeks!


Boston_Corbett 2 years, 8 months ago

Why doesn't the LPD use the training offered without fee to the City by the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center in Hutchinson, instead of replicating it all in-house?

How much would that save in personnel? Why is Lawrence so "special" about its officers that it doesn't use this option which most of the State of Kansas uses? If LPD needs customized training for Lawrence procedures, it can still do that.

Why does the chief want to purchase a military grade Armored Personnel Carrier? (Yes, it is on his list of requests) And you want trust all his views of staffing levels?

And yes, I was involved in a minor bump-from-behind accident (no damage to me) which required 4 police cars.


leftylucky 2 years, 8 months ago

How can the property Shumn owns (vacant lot) middle of downtown be taxed as agriculture and only pay 20 dollars tax. Is he paying a fair share.


jgier 2 years, 8 months ago

I don't know all of the facts, but it does appear that the taxes are on the table to increase at a significant rate in an already-higer property tax area.

Purely opinion from a limited standpoint...


smitty 2 years, 8 months ago

Another quiet Sunday night .....

This is pretty much what has been reported for months with rare exception.

Commissioner Schumm is correct to go with the lowest numbers.

It's unfortunate that the commission doesn't have Rundle on it now to assist Schumm.


Stain 2 years, 8 months ago

Ask anybody who works the night shift in the emergency room at the hospital if Lawrence has enough police officers.


Stain 2 years, 8 months ago

I want the city to spend what is necessary for police officers.

How about cutting back on the tax breaks and other gifts to developers?


Richard Heckler 2 years, 8 months ago

When it comes to the LPD budget never has the LPD taken a back seat. It eats up a large portion of the budget.

Comm Carter has no idea what he is talking about.

“Housing is such a critical element to our economy,” Carter said. “As a government, there is a not a lot we can do to create jobs, but we can help create an environment to support economic development.”

Our city's current budget crunch could easily be tied directly to infrastructure expenses needed to serve new residential developments. The community is way over extended in this regard.

If residential growth paid for itself and was financially positive, we would not be in a budget crunch. But with increased numbers of residential you have increased demand on services, and historically the funding of revenues generated by residential housing does not pay for the services, they require from a municipality.

Why not increased IMPACT FEES or EXCISE TAXES? Local real estate developers have had a great time laughing all of the way to the bank on the backs of taxpayers. Time to stop this nonsense.

Additionally Basic findings:

  1. Lawrence is overbuilt in housing: Homes were built faster than popualtion growth supporting these homes. Excessive subdivisions caused an outmigration from older neighborhoods causing a severe loss of value, a loss of dwelling units, and a variety of other problems such as school closings. Basic strategy:

Lawrence should adopt a policy of "cooling off" the pace of development. Note: This is not a moratoriam; it is a consicous effort to redirect growth to existing neighborhoods and districts where it can be beneficial.

Housing: The city should stop approving new subdivisions until the existing supply of surplus homes is eliminated. It should direct housing investment back into older neighborhoods so as to preserve and protect the existing public and private investment there.

Kirk McClure – Lawrence,Kansas

Education Ph. D., City Planning, University of California, Berkeley, Department of City and Regional Planning, 1985. Concentrations in Housing Economics and Public Finance.

Master in City Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, 1978. Specialization in Housing Policy Analysis.

Bachelor of Arts, University of Kansas, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 1974. Special Major in Urban Studies.

Bachelor of Architecture, Graduated With Distinction University of Kansas, School of Architecture and Urban Design, 1973.


irvan moore 2 years, 8 months ago

it's better to have a cop and not need one than to need one and not have one


Bob Forer 2 years, 8 months ago

I'd rather have two extra cops than $4.14 in my pocket. Can't even buy a McDonald's Extra Value meal with the extra money.


wyattearp2 2 years, 8 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.


Gedanken 2 years, 8 months ago

I could agree more -

We don't need to add large number of cops to the police force. If anything - we need to educate the ones that are on the force now. A friend of mine's house was recently broken into and several pieces of computer equipment were stolen. We were able to track on of the laptops to an IP address. We gave it to the cop, but he didn't have clue one what to do with it.

A couple of years ago - I had a gun pulled on me while running in the evening. The people eventually drove off and I was only able to get the first couple of letters of the license plate. It took the cops over an hour to get to my house because they went to the wrong address. Then, they told me they would give the information to their detectives, but they wouldn't do anything with it. They also said that the first three letters of a license plate, Kansas plates, color of the car and ethnicity of the presumed owners were not enough to find the people involved. What?!?

Seriously - Lawrence cops are worthless.


irvan moore 2 years, 8 months ago

mr. schumm is obviously anti anything not directly benefitting downtown, the police department needs to grow at a reasonable rate. the citizens of Lawrence expect and deserve a properly staffed and trained police force.


Paula Kissinger 2 years, 8 months ago

“Two is a good number to start with, and if we keep doing that, we’ll have several new officers in a few years,” Schumm said.

How these local idiots elected you back onto the commission I do not understand. They must all be transplants unfamiliar with your prior years of "service" such as this idiotic comment. Adding "several officers" in a few years will not even compensate for the ones that will be retiring much less bring the force up to a decent level for barely adequate service. But then it, of course, would be you that has contempt for the police...not decent citizens.

You are not doing what you were elected to do, Bob, which is to make decisions in the best interest of the citizens...not according to your own personal agenda. We encountered plenty of that through others no longer on the commission.


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