Archive for Monday, August 8, 2011

City, County would pay to keep open state SRS office under proposal announced Monday

The Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services announced Friday that it will be closing the Lawrence SRS service center, 1901 Del.

The Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services announced Friday that it will be closing the Lawrence SRS service center, 1901 Del.

August 8, 2011, 5:05 p.m. Updated August 8, 2011, 8:49 p.m.

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— After weeks of community anguish over a decision by Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration to shut down the Lawrence state welfare agency office, a deal was announced Monday that would keep the office open but require local payments.

Under the proposal, the city and county would each pay $112,500 to the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services in January 2012 and $112,500 in January 2013. That totals $450,000.

In return for satisfying SRS’ demand to cut its costs, SRS would keep the office in operation to September 2013. What happens after that, SRS Secretary Robert Siedlecki Jr. said, would depend on the economic condition of the state.

“We have committed to the community in Lawrence to make a good faith effort to seek adequate funding in subsequent years for that purpose,” he said.

Siedlecki, who had announced on July 1 the plan to close the Lawrence office, said that under the new payment proposal put together by local officials, “everyone wins.”

Both Douglas County Commission Chairman Jim Flory and Lawrence Mayor Aron Cromwell voiced support of the deal, which is contingent on approval after public hearings of the Lawrence City Commission todayon Tuesday, and the Douglas County Commission on Wednesday.

“I view this proposal as a temporary partnership between local and state governments that will benefit the entire community,” Flory said.

“Not only will approval of this proposal assure the continuance of essential social services to our constituents, it will also continue the economic benefit realized locally from a significant state payroll and by avoiding additional budgetary demands on many local social service agencies,” he said.

Cromwell said, “This proposal allows for the continuation of SRS services in Lawrence. SRS provides vital services to many of our residents. It is important to the Lawrence community to maintain the SRS presence in Lawrence.”

Officials said the county funds will come from money currently budgeted for future economic development. It will not require a mill levy increase. The city will dip into its fund balances.

Under the proposal, if the Legislature stepped up to provide the funding to keep open the Lawrence office, then the city and county would be released from the payment obligation.

If approved, the plan would resolve for now the controversial decision by Siedlecki to close the Lawrence office.

Siedlecki and Gov. Sam Brownback said closing SRS offices in Lawrence and eight other towns was needed to comply with a legislative requirement to cut $1 million in costs.

The Lawrence office was by far the largest one planned for closure, serving thousands of needy Kansans and employing 87 people.

Siedlecki and Brownback said clients at the office could access services online or travel to nearby cities, such as Topeka. The plan was to allow the employees to transfer to other offices.

Siedlecki said closing the Lawrence office would save more than $400,000 per year, with most of that money coming from rent for two buildings at 1900 and 1901 Del. But officials later said about half of those costs were paid through federal dollars.

But local officials said shutting down the Lawrence SRS office would have disrupted services to vulnerable Kansans, led to more criminal activity and child abuse, and placed additional burdens on already strapped nonprofit groups.

They said the notion that SRS clients, many of them with disabilities, could travel to other cities was not possible. And they noted that many services administered by SRS could not be accessed by computer.

Community leaders, advocates for the needy and law enforcement officials were stunned and in some cases angered when SRS announced it was shutting down the Lawrence office.

More than 1,000 people attended meetings and rallies shortly after the announcement. Nearly 20 local agencies said any savings to the state would have simply shifted onto them.

Law enforcement officials said they were concerned that without SRS social workers who were familiar with the territory there would be more cases of child abuse.

Douglas County commissioners held several closed-door sessions to discuss what options were available. On Friday, members of the County and City Commission met briefly with high-ranking SRS officials.

County Administrator Craig Weinaug said officials abided by all requirements of the state Open Meetings law. Three executive sessions were deemed privileged under the attorney-client privilege dealing with the possibility of lawsuits surrounding the situation, he said.

House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, said the proposed deal was “great news for the over 10,000 residents of Douglas County that depend on services provided by SRS.” He said he was confident city and county officials would approve the proposal.

Davis said closing the SRS office “was not an option.”

He added that he has never witnessed in Lawrence “such an outpouring of concern and compassion like what we have seen since the July 1 announcement by SRS that would they would close the Lawrence office. I have never been more proud to call Lawrence and Douglas County home.”

Comments

Reta Cosby 3 years, 10 months ago

Is a new staff, refurbished, down-sized or otherwise included with that deal. Sure hope so!

nut_case 3 years, 10 months ago

Most likely not, though I'm sure a tax increase is included. 2 percent, 2 percent, 2 percent more.

Debra Schmidt 3 years, 10 months ago

Hmmm, I wonder if the Governor will need to visit Texas and pray about this before it is approved. Pass the offering plate! I support whatever it takes to help those who are obnoxiously overlooked by leaders to the west.

local_interest 3 years, 10 months ago

Glad this plan is coming up. Expecting people to drive to KC or Topeka, because the option exists (a four lane highway) doesn't mean people can. Sure there are people that take advantage of the system, but that doesn't mean you can punish people are desperate and just trying to feed and clothe their kids. Or any of the other services SRS provides.

Hope it works out. (Waiting for the but I don't want my taxes helping anyone by myself!!!!, crowd to chime in.)

k67 3 years, 10 months ago

It's ridiculous that the City and County are taking on paying for an expense that should come out of the State budget. So, what will happen in the future in those counties that can't afford to pay? They'll be penalized by experiencing an inequity in service access, while the more affluent counties will be penalized by being saddled with facilities costs that should be the responsibility of the State.

Charlie Dominguez 3 years, 10 months ago

Totally agree. I feel for those who need these services, but the city and county should not be responsible for the cost. If the state won't pay then vote out the state leadership, but don't force the citizenry to pick up the cost AND THEN CLAIM VICTORY.

The state has to cut, and every SRS office that is shut down, feels it should be kept open. Democrats seem to rejoice in being hook winked by the leadership. Democrats have weak leadership when they push the cost to the city and county taxpayers and then jump up an down that "they won". Tired of the social cost of living in Lawrence, time to move on.....

meggers 3 years, 10 months ago

This isn't a democratic or republican issue. It is a human issue.

jafs 3 years, 10 months ago

The state isn't saving any money - they're simply spending the same amount on two new administrative positions.

pinecreek 3 years, 10 months ago

Playing right into Brownback's hands...what a stupid plan. What will he farm out to local communities next? Maintenance of state highways? Paying for your local Highway Patrol coverage? Dumb, dumb, dumb.....

friendlyjhawk 3 years, 10 months ago

I agree. First it sounded like a good plan but quickly thinking it through I thought the same thing as the above writer. Good way to push other State responsibilities off on the city/county. His plan seems to be that if I dumb down enough others will pick up the tab and I can use that to make it seem like I am a good manager. His run for President will be based on a cluster of horrid episodes like this.

BobandAlice 3 years, 10 months ago

Next on Brownback's agenda is farming out education to the point where rural communities can not afford to keep their schools open and all rural mothers are forced to quit their jobs and to stay home and school their children.

BobandAlice 3 years, 10 months ago

Next on Brownback's agenda is to farm out education until rural communities can not afford to keep their schools open, all rural mothers will be forced to quit their jobs to stay home and school their children.

mcontrary 3 years, 10 months ago

Even more administrative expensives could be saved if we could get rid of the governor.

mr_right_wing 3 years, 10 months ago

Seems perfectly acceptable to me. Win-win.

jafs 3 years, 10 months ago

How is spending the same amount of money at the state level on administrative positions, and then having to spend local money for office space a "win" for anybody?

We're spending twice the amount of tax money for the same services.

BoppinBoppin 3 years, 10 months ago

One step closers to having a nationally recognized little blue state in Kansas known as Lawrence. First state to be 100% landlocked by another state.

mayatao 3 years, 10 months ago

Tough situation. Did we win or not? Look who's paying for it

Tammy Copp-Barta 3 years, 10 months ago

yep .. maybe we could trade the new library for it?

weeslicket 3 years, 10 months ago

from the article: The deal is contingent on approval after public hearings of the Lawrence City Commission, which will take it up Tuesday, and the Douglas County Commission, which will consider the proposal Wednesday.

hope they think a little longer and a little harder about this.

were the city and county to be reimbursed for this "temporary partnership", then it may make some sense.
but the article also said: Under the proposal, IF the Legislature stepped up to provide the funding to keep open the Lawrence office, then the city and county would be released from its payment obligation.

that's a rather large, unguaranteed if.

SpicePirate 3 years, 10 months ago

I want to know where SlickTricky gets off potentially going forward with this.

Please don't get me wrong. I am a fierce proponent of SRS staying open in Lawrence. My exasperation is that there is even still the issue of the city/county having to foot the bill in the first place, given recent revelations from the Ways and Means Committee Chair that all of the monies that SRS were to cut were supposed to come out of Topeka, and not surrounding offices. Those new positions they've created are opposite what they were supposed to be doing.

That being the case, we should be seeing an extra clause, stating that in the event that the state legislature finds that the office was wrongfully closed, that SRS is required to reimburse the City/County for those funds wrongfully garnered by this deal.

They are already, effectively, paying for those new job postings with the money stolen... sorry, "SAVED" from the Lawrence office. One of which should not even be allowed, as it is in violation of the separation of church and state.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 10 months ago

The question becomes since local taxpayers are picking up the tab when should each Lawrence/Douglas County taxpayer expect a refund check from the state?

Where is our money? What is the administration doing with these tax dollars that are no longer coming back to Lawrence/Douglas County?

Is there a paper trail?

BlackVelvet 3 years, 10 months ago

I'm sure Brownstripe has the money.....somewhere.....

4accountability 3 years, 10 months ago

The majority of counties no longer have a SRS office and none of them get any break. They receive services from the closest office which in many cases is considerably further than the three 30 minute options Lawrence has at its disposal. If Lawrence wants this convenience after it has been determined it is not feasible for the state under current conditions then they can pay for it.

jafs 3 years, 10 months ago

That would make sense if the state were actually saving money, but they're not.

It's being spent on new administrative positions.

Jimo 3 years, 10 months ago

So the whole thing was a money shakedown by the Governor? Or Sam found it too controversial to handle along with all the other controversies, lawsuits, etc. he has going right now? Or, to be charitable, I guess I can't rule out that his recent Prayer-a-palooza trip made him reflect briefly on the proper role of a Christian vis-a-vis the poor.

gl0ck0wn3r 3 years, 10 months ago

I'm a little lost. Where in the article does it state that Brownback was trying to shakedown local governments? It appears as if the local governments have come up with a solution on their own that they plan to use as leverage to keep the local office open. As others have commented about state vs. local funding, it seems like an inherently problematic idea... but I haven't seen any of the SRS office supporters stepping in with private funding to create the same sort of leverage. I suppose drum circles are much easier than finding funding?

Note: before you say it, I am not a Brownback supporter.

Jimo 3 years, 10 months ago

Uhhh....Brownback has managed to foist the expense of the state off on the local government. Paying for a system of public welfare is the responsibility of the State, which has far more extensive and broad based ways of raising revenue. I don't see Johnson County passing the collection hat around - and that creates an unfair advantage to taxpayers there, where the advantage is least needed.

It's a tried-and-true method whereby a higher level of government pretends to balance its books by forcing someone else to bear the costs. The article doesn't state this. Sometimes you just have to put 2 and 2 together yourself.

It would have been more elegant if Sam just wrote a ransom note to start with. Let's not pretend that this is a 'win-win' situation. The State wanted to abandon its responsibilities so it could subsidize the Koch Bros. by a few hundred thousand more and pay the big-dollar salary of a new SRS faith-based prayer-healer. The locals in Lawrence agreed instead to take up a collection to pay ransom for the hostages because they care more for the needy than the guy who wears his 'I heart Jesus' pin on his lapel.

gl0ck0wn3r 3 years, 10 months ago

So you believe this is the end point of his grand plan? You believe he's so brilliant that he knew Lawrence would take over the bills? You give him quite a bit of credit.

Orwell 3 years, 10 months ago

He wins either way. Either Lawrence loses services or Lawrence pays more. He doesn't care which.

Charlie Dominguez 3 years, 10 months ago

Amen, vote out any city or county official that votes in favor of this outrageous "solution". And give money to their opponent"s campaign!! I will sign that pledge.

Jean Robart 3 years, 10 months ago

and what will be the first thing you say when you are in the same position as those of us who use the SRS services?

4accountability 3 years, 10 months ago

If there was a opinion that it was going to cost Lawrence large sums to fill a perceived loss of services by the SRS office closure then I guess they have nothing to lose by picking up this expense. It was going to happen, one way or the other.

jafs 3 years, 10 months ago

So you'd rather we spend state revenue to hire more administrators, and in addition pay more at the local level to keep the offices open.

That means we're spending more money, and not getting anything more for it.

Hmmm.

MorningGlory 3 years, 10 months ago

I want to like this idea, I really do. I believe in the work that SRS does, but all I can think of is "Sucker!".

Bobo Fleming 3 years, 10 months ago

I am wondering what Brownback being a Christian has to do with this? I don't think you would use the term Muslim or Jewish in the same context. Why don't we keep religion out of this and talk about the facts. That it would be a great thing for the 87 people working here and the thousands of people being serviced here by SRS to have this happen. Why dont we quit the yelling and try to figure out a way out of this mess that both parties have got us into.

SpicePirate 3 years, 10 months ago

Hard to leave out religion when ONE of those new positions Will cost over 95000 dollars per year, of taxpayers money, for a "Faith Based " initiative.

SWJayhawk13 3 years, 10 months ago

Seeing as how Brownback is spending enormous amounts of money implementing "faith-based programs" for SRS and hiring people from out of state (how's that for making more jobs for Kansans?) I think it's MORE than fair to bring up his faith, especially since he is trying to force it onto all the citizens of Kansas. What ever happened to separation of church and state?

dabbindan 3 years, 10 months ago

here's what it has to do with it: brownback isn't just a christian. he is a zealot. for example, the regs developed for abortion clinics were not created in an effort to improve the health of kansans, or the regs would have been reasonable and allowed adequate time tor comment and implementation. the goal was to hinder providers who also provide abortions. since abortion is legal, hindering is a goal generated out of his zealous beliefs. if he only wanted to improve health, he would have implemented reasonable regs that were possible to comply with. zealots push their narrow concerns and goals on the rest of us, often without consideration of realities. this ill considered zealousness is going to end up costing the state of kansas many badly needed dollars. and sam will lose. btw, the terrorists we are dealing with all over the world? they are often zealots too.

Lana Christie-Hayes 3 years, 10 months ago

"With the payments, SRS says it would keep the office in operation for two years and would make a good faith effort to keep it in open permanently without further local subsidies after the 2013 payment."`~~ I'm ok with the temporary arrangement, but think the local reps. need to get something more concrete about what happens in 2013! "good faith effort" means nothing in the Brownback administration!

Lana Christie-Hayes 3 years, 10 months ago

I still hope to see some real change come out of the US Dept of Justice investigation! ~~~ I hope this isn't suppose to be "the end".. because we still have "the rest of the story" to deal with!

homechanger 3 years, 10 months ago

Good idea. Let's raise property taxes even more. Then rent for these poor and disabled can increase and they can move away to Topeka where they will be closer to the much needed handouts. This is a stupid shortsited plan. Why not just hirer a driver to take these folks to the nearest srs office. Probably cheaper.

fishy81 3 years, 10 months ago

Right on. What do folks do in rural areas. They catch a ride.

kernal 3 years, 10 months ago

Most people who require special services and have special needs, due to disabilities or illness, live close to where those services are available, not out in rural areas.

jafs 3 years, 10 months ago

According to the article, no taxes will be raised.

The money will come from existing funds at both the city and county level.

Charlie Dominguez 3 years, 10 months ago

Give me a break. You really think the city and /or county has funds set aside for this? and that replacement of those funds comes from where......ANY time the govt spends money,,,IT COST THE TAXPAYERS in the end.

jafs 3 years, 10 months ago

No taxes will be raised to pay for this.

Will taxes be raised in the future? Probably, although we could also do without some of what the funds were there for as well.

majorfunding 3 years, 10 months ago

Wow. Perhaps this means i must change my vote in the next election!! I also think we should discover the names of the individual commissioners who are supporting this plan . Then we could besiege them with support.

I is so rare to see any part of the government actually working, and exhibiting correct thinking, and taking selfness actions supporting the disadvantaged among us.

I

ChangeIntheWind 3 years, 10 months ago

Lawrence officials are letting SRS officials off of the hook and covering a bad decision with a bad decision; some things never change: There is always a simple solution to a complex problem, and it is usually wrong. Lets see what really plays out, is this really community colloboration or community clobberation.

sourpuss 3 years, 10 months ago

This is just a microcosm of the recent debt ceiling debacle. You hold something important hostage until the other side gives in to your demands and then call it compromise. While I think it is terrible the city and county have to take on this expense, leaving people without help is worse. It is a lose-lose, not a win-win as conservatives will like to paint it, but at least people will still have local access to these important services.

Cheer up though, we've nearly gotten through a whole year! Three (or seven) more to go! :)

Greenbird 3 years, 10 months ago

This hits the nail on the head. They can call it a compromise, but last I checked, a compromise is when both sides give up something. What has SRS given up in this "deal?" With the $200,000 in federal money and $250,000 from us, they give up nothing. We provide a "free" office (that we already pay for through state taxes), essentially covering the approx. $250,000 annual increase in administrative costs through the salaries for top SRS positions, including the new faith-based programs director position. And of course (as the poster below points out) we find out the legislature told SRS to cut $1 million from administration costs in Topeka, not close offices, as SRS claimed. Under these circumstances, why should we be blackmailed into paying for SRS's failure to follow the legislative's directive by covering what the legislature intended it to continue to fund??

I do not want the Lawrence office closed--it provides a vital service. And a real compromise, in which SRS actually puts some skin in the game, would even be okay. But this deal is simply outrageous and unacceptable.

meggers 3 years, 10 months ago

Not to mention, does this mean we are taking over the state's lease on the SRS buildings? That sure appears to be the case. Way to let 'em off the hook.

I'm glad the office is likely to remain open, but it's frustrating to see the cost shifted to the community. It is the state's responsibility to ensure that people have access to federally mandated services.

George_Braziller 3 years, 10 months ago

Wait a minute here. Just four days ago it was reported that :

“The cuts were supposed to be at the administration level in Topeka and not be dispersed to local offices,” said McGinn, who as the lead budget-writer in the Senate was instrumental in putting the final state budget together that was approved by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Sam Brownback.

http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2011/aug/04/statehouse-live-legislative-committee-seeks-answer/?kansas_legislature

The office will remain open but there is something about the deal that really smells.

Soapbox 3 years, 10 months ago

I do not want to pay for the SRS twice......go spend someone else's money! CNN HEADLINE: Dow plunges 630 points..........So does Obama's chances of being re-elected!!!!!!! snort snort, laugh, really laugh....can't to to spread the "I told you so's!".............more laughter!

BobandAlice 3 years, 10 months ago

This is paying for SRS twice! What will have to be cut from the city and county budget to offset this expense?

BobandAlice 3 years, 10 months ago

Here's a better idea: Since Brownback's personal agenda is to increase Christian values in the state, how about Sam Brownback write a personal check to all churches in Lawrence who increase their attendance. The churches could then donate that money to the Lawrence SRS office's operating budget. That would be a great incentive to get myself out of bed more often on Sunday mornings and go to church!

SpicePirate 3 years, 10 months ago

Not promised. .. ordered. The 'where' part of the cuts was not optional.

Alceste 3 years, 10 months ago

LJWorld.com:

Please have the downloadable documents saved to .doc format so that those of us with older, slower computers, and full hardrives; and older versions of Word can read these documents. It is very simple to save the documents as they are in the older .doc (or even .rtf) formats.

Many people don't have the space on the hard drive to save the MS Word "compatability pack" and open it. We're poor, don't you know?

Thank you.

fishy81 3 years, 10 months ago

Whoa up city. You said that the closure of the SRS office would required more police efforts. Soooo you passed a budget for 4 new police officers. Well if this deal goes through you won't need all the new officers sooothe LEAST you could do is rescind the authorization of those new position and use that money to fund the SRS office rental budget. I mean you want your cake and eat it too.

nativeson 3 years, 10 months ago

This is just not the way to proceed. First, we have no idea how much the social services network in Lawrence can absorb as far as physical location. Second, this will continue the trend of having state responsibilities fall down to the local level. There is not enough money to take this on, and it will only be the beginning.

evilpenguin 3 years, 10 months ago

Hey if we need to cut money from the budget, lets just dissolve the title of state governor and give the job to a blind, 3 legged goat. It's bound to do a better job and will save us having to pay some Christian fanatic to ruin us all.

bevy 3 years, 10 months ago

Like time ten thousand. Goats have better sense, no matter how many legs they have.

Alceste 3 years, 10 months ago

Peoples....."This" ain't no done deal. Call or email City Commission and County Commission members. Here are some email addreses:

hughcarter@sunflower.com">p>hughcarter@sunflower.com aroncromwell@gmail.com mdever@sunflower.com mikeamyx515@hotmail.com schummfoods@gmail.com

ForThePeople 3 years, 10 months ago

Bad idea! The more we (Lawrence and small communities) give, the more BB will expect. SRS is a state expense and should remain as such! Please do not cowtow to bullies such as BB. If it means the office gets closed so be it. We must work to see the BB's don't get elected to begin with and oust them when they don't do the job they were elected to do!

Gary Pomeroy 3 years, 10 months ago

Two things. First, while I support keeping the office open (and have personal reasons for this position), I object to the extortionate tactics used by the Florida mafia to dump their financial obligation on to the city and county. Second, in response to evilpenguin, on behalf of blind three legged goats everywhere, I bitterly resent the comparison with our illustrious governor.

jumpin_catfish 3 years, 10 months ago

Let them eat cake!

Seriously, I love cake, its so yummy.

Flap Doodle 3 years, 10 months ago

Given a choice, I'll opt for pie. That doesn't mean I scorn cake-eaters.

Alceste 3 years, 10 months ago

PS:

Still can't read the document as it is in .docx format. Is it meant to be read only by the wealthy who own "state of the art" computers and software?

Where's the line to sign up for welfare again? I needs me a new cornputer and the newsy software from Billy Gates.

evilpenguin 3 years, 10 months ago

You can try downloading open office. it's free and will allow you to open a docx file no problems. And it's a kick in the balls to ole Billy!

lunacydetector 3 years, 10 months ago

this will save the t bus from being riderless, it assures the county allows a homeless shelter to be constructed on county land, the panhandlers can continue business as usual downtown, it keeps low income housing full, the donation meters won't be for nothing, and all the cottage welfare non-profit companies will stay in business, and it assures lawrence won't have a sudden drop in 10K poor residents that would've normally moved closer to another s.r.s. office, and lawrence's developer that carries the biggest stick in town will continue receiving a rent payment.

everybody has their place in the family....or, community a win, i guess.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 10 months ago

As a tax payer, I'm not sure it makes that much of a difference. My taxes can go to Washington and then sent back to Kansas, or my money can go to Topeka and then sent back to Lawrence, or it can be sent to the city and county offices. As long as the total amount doesn't change, what difference does it make?

Brock Masters 3 years, 10 months ago

I see it this way. Our taxes went to Topeka to fund this office. The legislature said to cut from admin in Topeka but instead they cut from SRS in Lawrence.

Now, the dollars we paid here locally are being used to fund the SRS office in Lawrence instead of being used for local economic development and other local issues.

And, it may result in more local taxes for us.

That is the difference I see.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 10 months ago

The way I see it is this, the amount of money government spends keeps going up. It rarely goes down. If this proposal prevents state taxes from going up, either by slowing the rate of growth or by actually lowering the amount the state spends, and then that is offset by an increase of the same amount in local taxes, then it's a wash.
Now if local taxes go up to support the local SRS building and we don't see a corresponding savings at the state level, then it's a bad deal.
I'm going to assume that there is some cost involved in sending our money to Topeka and then having somebody sending that money back to Lawrence. Whatever that amount is should be considered savings. I understand people's concern that the state will simply keep that savings and use it for some other purpose. But again, if my local taxes go up but my state taxes go down by the same amount, does it really matter.

jafs 3 years, 10 months ago

There's no actual cost savings at the state level from this, since he hired two new administrative positions that make up almost exactly the same amount we're "saving" by not paying for the local office.

So your taxes will not go down at the state level as a result of this.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 10 months ago

That's if this were a this or that scenario. Those two hires might have happened either way given the fact the the size of bureaucracies tend to get bigger over time. So even if the local SRS office had never been considered for closing, those two hires (and more on the horizon) might happen.

jafs 3 years, 10 months ago

Given that the legislators tasked with budgets were proposing cutting administration, rather than closing offices, that seems unlikely.

It's more likely that administration would have been cut, and offices would have continued to stay open.

And, that we wouldn't have needed to make up this money at the local level as well.

jafs 3 years, 10 months ago

One of the new positions is for a PR spokesperson for SRS - I'm not aware of any other time we've had that position, are you?

jhawkinsf 3 years, 10 months ago

I'm not that familiar with the workings of SRS. I was speaking in general terms about bureaucracies getting bigger and bigger over time.

George Lippencott 3 years, 10 months ago

Great. What other state functions are we going to accept? I really do suspect that we will see further cuts in state funding next year. And, like all the cuts in the past, they will not result in a dime of tax cuts to most tax payers in Lawrence. A double whammy!

SpicePirate 3 years, 10 months ago

This would double what we pay. Our state taxes would STILL go to SRS to fund BB's new lackeys... THEN we'd be taxed locally for the SRS office.

aworkingman 3 years, 10 months ago

I got an idea---go get a job---quit living off the tax dollars---we wouldn't be in the mess we are in if free loaders went to work

Jean Robart 3 years, 10 months ago

you are making an invalid assumption that people who avail themselves of SRS services are freeloaders. I use SRS services, and I worked for 44 years till I retired six weeks ago. I am not a freeloader. I did the time, and paid my taxes into the system and the governments. I just need some help till i turn 65.

Cait McKnelly 3 years, 10 months ago

I believe this sets a very bad precedent. What are those other communities across the state that also face closure going to do if/when they can't pick up the tab? No, I do not agree with this. It's the state's responsibility and I can guarantee, you give Brownback/Siedlecki an inch they will take a mile. I think they need to cut the four new positions they created (including their "Faith Based Initiatives" office) and put the money back where it belongs. I also believe that Siedlecki needs to quit hiding behind layers of spokespeople and step up to the plate and face the voters of this state and do the job he was hired to do or quit or get fired for incompetence.

kernal 3 years, 10 months ago

Last time I checked, we don't have the wealth Johnson County does. Why not let them pay for their SRS office?

Orwell 3 years, 10 months ago

More right-wingers in Johnson County. They rail against taxes but they're happy to get the benefits – especially if the heathens in Lawrence pay a disproportionate share.

kernal 3 years, 10 months ago

The Johnson County conservatives are generally not the ones getting benefits from SRS.

goodcountrypeople 3 years, 10 months ago

Here we go playing the pity card again. The LJWorld should know themselves and actively educate the public that legally disability is a matter of self-identification. It's a violation of decency, respect, and privacy laws to go around imposing unthinking assumptions on strangers. Most people in the world are more civilized and emotionally intelligent than to train up their children up like Kansans do into aggressively approaching strangers on the basis of perceived physical limitation. Legally, everyone has the right to be treated the same and this molestation is an offensive, prima facie violation of equal opportunity.This hateful, violating and mobbing behavior in itself strikes thinking people as a sad sign of backwoods intellectual limitations, and an unconscious determination that ignorance should rule the roost in places like KS and MO. No one should have to be subject to such disrespectful behavior and frightening stupidity. It's street harassment, pure and simple.These people are usually too dumb to be quickly put in their place by tactful sarcasm either. They are utterly clueless, brainwashed people who all behave the same-- a kiss-to-kill genocidal attitude--KS as bigoted as you think people. Kindly keep your distance, dummies. It's the most helpful act those who don't have their brains in gear are capable of.

meggers 3 years, 10 months ago

What in the hell are you talking about?

bolshavik_vw 3 years, 10 months ago

good, now we need to do this with the arts. It is about time we won something.

jafs 3 years, 10 months ago

We're paying the same at the state level, due to the creation of new administrative positions, and now also at the local level as well.

How is that a "win"?

We're spending 2x as much money for the same services.

John Hamm 3 years, 10 months ago

IDIOTS! Simply idiotic. You're gonna spend my money to keep the office open to serve everybody else? WHAT!?!?!

Flap Doodle 3 years, 10 months ago

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Flap Doodle 3 years, 10 months ago

Oops, I missed goodie's post from this afternoon. Comedy gold, every word of it

Gedanken 3 years, 10 months ago

Let me be up front - I think the SRS closing is a bad deal. We should work to prevent its closure.

I can't help, but feel that this solution is akin to a rich daddy paying to have "problems" go away without really fixing the "problem". Lawrence isn't a rich daddy. You want to raise my property taxes and then all of a sudden you have $112,500 sitting around that you can commit? That doesn't make sense at all.

How about we try to find other ways to solve the problem? I think for that kind of cash we could do lots of other things. Heck - run a bus service a couple of times a week over to Topeka or Kansas City! Call to get picked up and taken over. I imagine that will cost less then $112,500 a year! If you think you can really on promises from the Kansas State Government - then you are crazy!

Ken Lassman 3 years, 10 months ago

Spice had it right with the idea of adding a clause that the state would reimburse the city if the legislature found that the SRS office was wrongfully closed through a bait-and-switching of the order by the legislature for SRS to save 1 million thru ADMINISTRATIVE cuts to central office.

In the meantime, the City of Lawrence and Douglas County has rightfully stepped up to the plate to take care of its own since the state is unwilling to do so. I for one am proud of our elected officials for being Good Samaritans to maintain essential services that SRS provides to those in need even when the State doesn't hold up its end of the social contract that makes us a community.

This is a short term solution, but it is also a display of local leadership when it is lacking from the executive branch. I think in the end it will make us stronger.

myopinion 3 years, 10 months ago

I agree with you. This is a solution that needs to be put in place until the rest of the story plays out,. The other issues will be addressed, but without this offer, it might be too late to keep this office from closing. I never saw a completed list of the expected costs to the local non-profits. There were over 20, and the need to hire new caseworkers to handle the increased caseloads and the cost of transportation for many of them, the totals on the first 8 were already over $150.000 per year. The article says there will be no mill levy increase. But you can bet there would be one if the office closes and the local agencies have to pick up the costs of over 10,000 clients. Short-term, this will stop the closing while the other issues are worked out. I am proud of them too.

AmyR 3 years, 10 months ago

It sounds like the message last week was don't take my public assistance away. This weeks message is, I don't want to pay for it. Money does not grow on trees. It has to come from somewhere. If this is not a good solution, What is? I know, let the state treasury pay for it. Sounds like a good ideal, but I think as the market showed today, there is a shortage of money. Even though much of us did not create the deficit, we have a serious problem that will not repair itself until cuts to entitlement programs and taxes are raised. It sucks and we can all whine Obama or Bush created this problem. It is now all of our problem and it will not go away without everyone pitching in to repair the problem. It starts with people learning about the politcal candidates and showing up to vote. Someone at least got off their a$$ and voted Brownback into office. Somebody liked him.

jafs 3 years, 10 months ago

Except we're not actually saving any money at the state level - the two new administrative positions will cost the state the same amount they're "saving" by not paying for the office space.

majorfunding 3 years, 10 months ago

I think they did not know what he truly is, and what he will try to do, I also think that he was mostly just elected on name recognition by the majority who choose to remain ignorant of politics altogether.

It is my hope that he has been outrageous enough that even those people will learn the truth, and be shocked by it.

Then they will be aware enough to boot him out, and elect a democrat. Even better, would be to boot him out even sooner, through recall

Kansas is not well served by Brownback and hi efforts to return us all, to the dark ages.

Orwell 3 years, 10 months ago

Guess again. We've just given him reason to cut more.

Lana Christie-Hayes 3 years, 10 months ago

I'm hoping that you are right Gandalf!~ "This deal keeps SRS open until everything else plays out. I expect one way or another Lawrence and DG county will be reimbursed." I'd hate to see the other legal battles against this administration go by the wayside!

verity 3 years, 10 months ago

"brownee and seigheil could not back down without looking even dumber than they already do" being the operative phrase here.

Orwell 3 years, 10 months ago

This is nonsense. I'm paying my share of state taxes for a statewide Department of SRS. Now I have to pay a property tax surcharge to get the benefit of that department in Lawrence. The rest of the state will have a god chuckle and send us a thank-you note.

Next up: Brownback and his minions will tell us we can just support KU with local taxes if we want to have the local benefit of higher education, thankyouverymuch. And new highways? Why should the state pay if we've shown we're always willing to bend over?

Call your city and county commissioners. Tell them not to negotiate with terrorists.

Jimo 3 years, 10 months ago

Meanwhile, while the Prayer-o-Palooza gives away tickets while praying for "those who have lost hope:, 100,000 gather down the street, trying to survive Gov. Perry's mockery of Christianity: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/7686252.html#ixzz1USjCykTq

How much do you suppose Jesus appreciates mockery? Perry didn't mention he himself was the reason so many lost hope.

kernal 3 years, 10 months ago

Brownback fervently believes he is religious. Problem is, he only pays attention to those parts of the Bible that suit him, as do most in their religious fervor.

Mercat 3 years, 10 months ago

We don't live in Lawrence anymore. When we found that we couldn't afford to live there, we moved to a community where we could get jobs and find services we needed. Lawrence is a lovely place but subsidizing folks to stay there seems to me to be counter productive. I agree with the person who suggested paying for a driver and/or a bus to run to topeka or Johnson County once a day to ferry people to whatever services they need. There is also internet access and if they need to meet face to face, skype. All cheaper than keeping open a physical plant in Lawrence. How much more does our economy need to tank before we start being realistic about spending?

Lana Christie-Hayes 3 years, 10 months ago

This is not just about individuals, it's also about all the service agencies in Lawrence that rely on having an SRS office in the community..and about jobs that would be lost.

jafs 3 years, 10 months ago

If the state chose to keep the offices open rather than creating two new administrative positions, Lawrence wouldn't be in this position.

And, the state would be spending the same amount of money that it's spending now.

Lindsey Buscher 3 years, 10 months ago

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snook3200 3 years, 10 months ago

all i see is people complaining, fingerpointing, and namecalling. what a shame. threatning to not vote for the local officials that are trying to come to a resolve for our community. we should be out there supporting them. at least till brownback is out of office. this is about saving our community as a whole. sticking together, coming together and being united on an issue. instead everyone is saying horrible things. we must stand united and support our local government on this issue as they are trying to save our local non for profit organizations and the people of this community that depend on these services. there is a huge amount of people in this community that gives their time, heart and effort to helping out people of need. and it is time we support them, not sit here and point our finger. you never know when you will be one to need these services yourself. be careful for what you say. god bless.

Lana Christie-Hayes 3 years, 10 months ago

agreed... but just hope something more concrete will be written in for what happens when this agreement is over in 2013. Brownback/Seidlecki's idea of "good faith" is an oxymoron!

irvan moore 3 years, 10 months ago

as is obvious i am not a fan of the city commission or the county commission but i think they got this one right. we give tax abatements to out of town business and here we are keeping 40 (?) jobs in town, and keeping local residents employed. i think this is money well spent and if it's out of the economic development fund it is probably well used.

globehead 3 years, 10 months ago

So, By default isn't Lawrence/Douglas County essentially subsidizing the rest of the state with this deal? Why aren't other areas contributing to the support of state offices in THEIR areas?

Orwell 3 years, 10 months ago

Exactly right. Worse yet, we're about to tell the winger/extremists in the Legislature and the governor's office that they can cut whatever they want to from state services for Lawrence, secure in the belief that the local residents will pick up the tab.

In case you haven't heard, and as Rep. Anthony Brown from Eudora told us, they don't give a damn for Lawrence. They'd welcome the double win of cutting both state expenditures and services here. They can now assume they won't catch any heat at the state level from many local voters because the services and their costs will become purely local issues.

Lawrence needs the SRS services to continue locally, but it's more important in the long run to head off a never-ending series of state service cuts that will be dumped on a single community.

George Lippencott 3 years, 10 months ago

Schools are next!!! KU will follow!!!

How deep are your pockets??

nonon69 3 years, 10 months ago

This is extortion and a recall of Brownback should be initiated by the victims of his criminal acts. I understand the city and county had to do what they had to but man I hate paying off the greedy gangsters in Topeka at the expense of those he was sworn to protect.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 10 months ago

Local politicians give in to Brownback extortion. Is that good news, or bad? I'd say it's a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't situation.

One question-- will the city and county get the $200,000 in annual federal money that goes to pay for the rent?

jafs 3 years, 10 months ago

I had that question as well.

It's got to come from somewhere, unless the landlord agrees to halve the rent.

I'm not sure of the details though - if it depends on state funding as a match,...

Kim Murphree 3 years, 10 months ago

So, essentially, Brownback is forcing the City/County citizenship here to pay for his new faith-based initiative people. Pretty slick---his move was win/win---either Douglas county went without an SRS office so he could fund his faith based initiative and other administrative cronies, or we would pick up the tab, and he could fund his faith based initiative and other administrative cronies. What we must do--is remember this manipulation and calculative attitude and vote him OUT when we can. Meantime, the City/County did the right thing for those most in need. But don't be fooled--faith-based initiatives have nothing to do with belief in Christ.

George Lippencott 3 years, 10 months ago

How do we convince the rest of Kansas to support us. Tell them they are bigots or not religious??

tomatogrower 3 years, 10 months ago

Remember this when Brownback cuts corporate taxes. Remember this when Brownback tries to claim he cut taxes. This is the GOP and Tea Party's way of cutting state and federal taxes, but passing the buck to local communities. Lawrence cares enough to do it, but will other communities? Probably not. That's why they chose Lawrence first. Now they will begin the process across the state. Remember this at election time.

John Sickels 3 years, 10 months ago

People are losing the track here.

Brownback and his minions are the moral equivalent of terrorists, attacking the weak and powerless, holding them hostage to their agenda.

The county and city folks have come up with a way to rescue the hostages. THIS IS A SHORT-TERM SOLUTION. The only medium and long-term solution is to get something through the legislature to prevent this kind of behavior from Brownie again, and to vote him out of office in 2014.

I think the local officials should be commended for doing something about it. I don't think they should be condemned. This doesn't solve the problem but it gives us some breathing space to figure out what to do next.

George Lippencott 3 years, 10 months ago

How are you going to do that? Last time I looked his party dominates.

jafs 3 years, 10 months ago

Not all Republicans support him, even at the legislative level.

George Lippencott 3 years, 10 months ago

Absolutely. They were called moderates. Many of them were defeated in the last election.

skinny 3 years, 10 months ago

If the City and County have extra money it should be used instead to drop the mill levy during these hard economic times! I can see a lawsuit coming from the Douglas County tax payers!!

jafs 3 years, 10 months ago

Nope.

We're spending twice the amount of taxpayer money at the local and state level, and getting the same services.

Meanwhile, people still think the governor is saving money.

pace 3 years, 10 months ago

Brownback should be ashamed, only worse case is Kansas, we elected this guy. Robbing the poor, to cushion the rich.

verity 3 years, 10 months ago

A report on the recently attended prayer thingy in Houston:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jim-moore/a-prayer-for-ricky-meany_b_920349.html?utm_source=DailyBrief&utm_campaign=080811&utm_medium=email&utm_content=BlogEntry&utm_term=Daily%20Brief

It's not the morals of this country that are declining, it's the ability to think critically and rationally and to make decisions based on reality. Or maybe that ability is not declining, it's just that our leaders have become progressively more regressive and authoritarian and have learned how to manipulate us better.

Of course, the more education one has, generally the more one questions things. See where I'm going with this?

guess_again 3 years, 10 months ago

The winners: Schwada family, SRS clients

The losers: everyone else.

John Sickels 3 years, 10 months ago

I'm really discouraged that the city and county guys are taking flak for this. They are doing what they can do to protect the most vulnerable people in Lawrence from Brownback's attack.

The fault lies with Brownback and his minions, not the local pols who are trying to find a solution that doesn't screw over thousands of people.

As I said, this is a short-term fix through 2013, a bandaid. Now we have to lobby the legislature and find a way to prevent this from happening again.

Lana Christie-Hayes 3 years, 10 months ago

Like x 1,000,000 !!! I agree wholeheartedly JS!

fishy81 3 years, 10 months ago

not one penny of aid to the needed has been reduced.

Lana Christie-Hayes 3 years, 10 months ago

From Save Our SRS - Lawrence, KS - on facebook~~~~~~~~ "Help us pack City Hall tonight as the City Commission will consider the County/City resolution to keep the Lawrence SRS office open! Be at City Hall at 6:35pm!"

mloburgio 3 years, 10 months ago

Kansas not pursuing federal prevention dollars

Major federal initiative will bypass Kansas because no one applied for grant

TOPEKA — “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” — Ben Franklin

The federal government is poised to start spending $900 million nationwide over the next five years in an effort to battle costly chronic ailments such as obesity and diabetes.

The initiative is considered the single largest push to date by the national government to encourage disease prevention. But Kansas likely won’t see a dollar of that money.

Why not? Well, one big reason is that no one here asked. http://www.khi.org/news/2011/aug/08/kansas-not-pursuing-federal-prevention-dollars/

Kontum1972 3 years, 10 months ago

Gov., sway-back wants to refurbush some of the old closed down missile silos to fight Al Quieda..he wants to take it Directly to the enemy...on-ward christian soldiers marching off too war....ta da...!

Sigmund 3 years, 10 months ago

$450,000 sounds like a lot of money. We are no longer funding fire equipment like was promised when we raised taxes and we can't afford additional police officers. I sure hope this doesn't cut into the funds for K.T. Walsh's brick streets! http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2011/aug/05/city-discuss-brick-street-maintenance/#c1707863

Dan Blomgren 3 years, 10 months ago

The closure was necessary for the State because the State was footing the whole bill. The City would have suffered from both loss of services as well as employment. Now the City has some 'skin in the game' so I guess it ought to pay something for the services it gets to keep. I just don't like the feel of the deal. I feel the State held our jobs and services hostage to get Lawrence to pony up. I sure don't like the precedent this is setting, but I guess Lawrence does benefit and so paying a little for it seems reasonable. I sure do have a bad taste in my mouth though. It really just comes down to whether or not Lawrence (and Douglas county) receive a $450, 000 benefit in funds and services. I'd write more, but I need to go gargle.

jafs 3 years, 10 months ago

  1. The state was not in fact footing the whole bill - about 1/2 of it was paid by federal dollars.

  2. Removing the state funding from the office in Lawrence didn't save a dime - the governor has spent at least that much on new administrative positions, including a PR spokesperson for SRS (which, to my knowledge, we've never had before in KS).

  3. I agree about the "feel" of this - it sets a bad precedent for the state to simply remove funding, and put pressure on local communities to make up for it, even when it's more appropriate for that funding to come from the state level.

doc1 3 years, 10 months ago

NO. NO. NO. NO. They can't afford it and if they do step in the state will expect them to keep it up.

hedshrinker 3 years, 10 months ago

Difference between social justice Dems and ideologically pure conservative Repubs is that Dems will usually blink first b/c their highest value is to take care of the needs of the people and to hear all voices and work towards common ground, even if it means they have to eat crow/lose the election etc., whereas Repubs will win at all costs no matter who suffers....never blink first b/c they have absolutely NO shame. So in this case Lawrencians fought for the right thing even tho we may pay thru the nose for it, of course letting King Sam off the hook and with more $$$in his war chest to pay salaries for more of his cronies. I'd still rather do the right thing. Sucks tho'

JayhawkFan1985 3 years, 10 months ago

I have two problems with this. First, Lawrence and Douglas County should be suing the state for an arbitrary and capricious decision on the part of the Brownback Administration to deny state services to residents in our community. The cost of state government should be borne by state taxes, not local taxes. Second, why should Lawrence residents pay twice? All Lawrence residents are residents of Douglas County too. If this needs to be done as a stop gap until reason returns to Topeka, then only Douglas County should pay for it. Residents of Lecompton, Baldwin City and Eudora will benefit from keeping this office open, why don't they contribut too?

dlewisto 3 years, 10 months ago

"But local officials said shutting down the Lawrence SRS office would have disrupted services to vulnerable Kansans, led to more criminal activity and child abuse, and placed additional burdens on already strapped nonprofit groups. They said the notion that SRS clients, many of them with disabilities, could travel to other cities was not possible. And they noted that many services administered by SRS could not be accessed by computer."

I struggle with the concept that people from Lawrence could not get to Topeka or KC for services when people in the (forgotten) west half of the state started traveling for services 6 years ago when large numbers of offices in that area were closed. People out here travel up to 100 miles to get to an office and social workers regularly travel further than that to get to homes they have to visit on protection cases. This was a hardship for people but surprisingly, we have all managed. Population numbers in western Kansas is admittedly less than in regions such as Lawrence but after years of living here, I am tired of our needs being discounted because we don't live in an urban region.

verity 3 years, 10 months ago

I haven't seen anybody here discounting your needs.

This is Lawrence's fight and that is your fight.

dlewisto 3 years, 10 months ago

It should not be a solitary "fight"! Is it OK that 61 offices closed 5 years ago and 8 more will close in the coming months, as long as it is not Lawrence? If human needs, disrupted services, accessibility are all important factors, why was there not a squeak from Lawrence or any other large urban area when 61 county offices were shut down, forcing many people to travel 60 or more miles to a service center?
I am not unfamiliar with Lawrence, I graduated from high school there, I graduated from college there and I lived there until I was 30 years old. Lawrence is no different than any other town/city, it is not a sovereign state in and of itself. We are all citizens of Kansas and all Kansans deserve the same kind of consideration. Unfortunately, not a lot of communities have the resources Lawrence has to mobilize a large force to influence policy or the ability to allocate funds to sway SRS decisions.
Sadly, even when news was published that if the Lawrence SRS office was spared, four or five other offices would be closed in it's place, no outcry was made by anyone about how that was not a reasonable compromise. No thought was given to the workers in those 4-5 other offices or to the people in those 4-5 counties who would have less access to an SRS Office. SRS is a state agency, this closure issue should be a statewide issue.

jafs 3 years, 10 months ago

Ok.

So are you participating in the Lawrence struggle to keep the offices open here?

Your idea is a noble one - that we should all band together as a state, but it's hard enough for people to agree in local communities and work together.

Unfortunately, sometimes we have to act in smaller groups, and more locally, where it's a bit easier to get some sort of consensus (although, of course, you can see from these comments that even in Lawrence, there are those who think it's fine to close these offices).

The most frustrating part of this is the fact that people continue to believe that the state is saving money by doing this, when it's obviously clear that they're not doing so, since they've created new administrative positions that cost at least as much.

jafs 3 years, 10 months ago

The landlord didn't force a firm to leave town before their lease was up - that's on the tenant.

I agree the rent seems a little out of whack, and should be/have been negotiated.

I also agree that our local government seems to lack in some fiscal conservatism.

I don't agree about the attitude - I don't see why fighting to keep a local office open is any sort of statement about other communities, it's simply a desire to protect one's own from harm.

It is of course a state agency, and that's why the state should be making sure it provides the services it's supposed to provide - Lawrence isn't the state, it's just a city.

jafs 3 years, 10 months ago

That seems like a very strange interpretation.

The fault of any closings is entirely on the state if they're the ones that choose to close offices.

Why would it be Lawrence's fault because we chose to step up and save our local office?

Kelli Carbaugh 3 years, 10 months ago

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