Two high-ranking officials with the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services met Friday with local leaders behind closed doors to discuss ways to avoid closing the Lawrence SRS office.
SRS Chief of Staff Jeff Kahrs and Director of Government Affairs Gary Haulmark left after about one-half hour.
“We’re happy to meet with them,” Kahrs said, but declined to divulge any details about what was discussed.
None of the participants in the meeting would talk about what was said.
Douglas County Commission Chairman Jim Flory said, “We’re continuing to work on it.”
He said he wasn’t at liberty to provide any details about any proposals put forward.
SRS Secretary Robert Siedlecki Jr. has announced the closure of nine offices, including the one in Lawrence. Gov. Sam Brownback and Siedlecki have said the closures are needed to save $1 million in administrative costs.
Local officials have said SRS’ stated savings of $400,000 by closing the Lawrence office is overstated, and that the closure would cause many vulnerable Kansans to lose critical services. Brownback and Siedlecki have said Lawrence clients could access services online or travel to nearby cities, such as Topeka. Advocates say that is not plausible.
“It’s extremely important the SRS office remains open in Lawrence,” said Lawrence City Commissioner Mike Amyx, who attended the meeting Friday. Amyx said he “felt very good about the meeting.”
Others in attendance were City Commissioner Hugh Carter, City Manager David Corliss and County Administrator Craig Weinaug.