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Archive for Thursday, August 11, 2011

County seconds plan to help fund SRS office

City Commission approved funding Tuesday

August 11, 2011

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Douglas County commissioners Wednesday echoed the City Commission, unanimously approving a memorandum to provide for the continued operation of the Social and Rehabilitation Services office in Lawrence.

The decision was preceded at the meeting by nothing but positive feedback from various members of the local community. No one spoke in opposition of the plan, which sees the city and county split funding that will keep the SRS office open through 2013.

City commissioners approved the plan with a 5-0 vote Tuesday night before sending the deal to the county for final approval. The funding, $112,500 from each governing body in 2012 and 2013, will cover costs cut at the state level.

County commissioner Nancy Thellman said the group didn’t always see eye to eye, but the urgency of the situation brought them together.

“On this, I think we’ve had a meeting of the mind and of the heart,” she said. “I think to choose the needs of the people is the right choice.”

State funding cuts to the SRS would have left thousands of county residents without services and would have sent the office’s 87 employees elsewhere.

All three commissioners voiced their opposition to the decisions made by state leaders that led to the situation that has consumed so much of their time and efforts the last several weeks.

“This is quite frankly no way to balance a state budget,” Commissioner Mike Gaughan said of the state’s decisions. “But the fact of the matter is we’re charged with the responsibilities. Right now the important thing to do is keep that office open.”

A common public concern commissioners identified Wednesday was the precedent set by local government picking up the tab on state responsibilities. Commissioner Jim Flory said that while using local tax dollars was a downside, the benefits “considerably and significantly” outweighed it.

A provision in the proposal would allow the city and county to nix their payment obligations should the state legislature provide funding for the local office in the future.

“It’s been a hard road to get where we are tonight,” Thellman said. “And there’s a tough road ahead as always, but I’m really grateful in this moment to be on this commission.”

Comments

Lana Christie-Hayes 3 years, 4 months ago

I'm so glad I live in a community that genuinely cares about its less fortunate citizens! I feel for those in this state that have to suffer under the iron fist of the Brownback administration!

Soapbox 3 years, 4 months ago

I do not want to fund the SRS twice! Please spend someone else's money on this!

jafs 3 years, 4 months ago

Send your complaints directly to the governor, who has chosen to spend more money on new administrative positions than is saved by not funding the office space here.

doc1 3 years, 4 months ago

Agree. I already pay enough. Not twice.

nativeson 3 years, 4 months ago

“This is quite frankly no way to balance a state budget,” Commissioner Mike Gaughan said of the state’s decisions. “But the fact of the matter is we’re charged with the responsibilities. Right now the important thing to do is keep that office open.”

Unfortunately, Commissioner Gaughan is misdirected. The County Commission nor the City of Lawrence are "charged" with the responsibility of social services. Both have "chosen" to place themselves in this role.

One can argue (and correctly) that we have as humanity a larger accountability to taking care or those who have less resources. I take this as a personal accountability, not one of our local governing bodies. These entities have specific accountability by charter to provide services to the community that do not include social services. These will now be diminished.

scribe 3 years, 4 months ago

That's not exactly true...the County, at least, has an obligation to fund certain social services, which they do with their annual allocations to organizations that provide mental health and developmentally disability services ...this action stretches that a bit, but it is a worthwhile solution to a very big problem. I too hate to see someone else picking up the tab for the state when, we the taxpayer's have already paid our money to the state for social services on a statewide basis. Hopefully our legislators will be successful in crafting a more specific directive with funding to release our County/City from paying to keep the local SRS office open.

nativeson 3 years, 4 months ago

I would love to believe that the legislature would revisit this situation, but I have little hope that any more funding will be available going forward. Once it is out of the budget, it will not come back.

This is an agreement in perpituity. At a rate of 5% the calculation is $125,000/5% = $2,500,000 of present value dollars to be expended in future budgets.

Don Whiteley 3 years, 4 months ago

The reaction to this closure is absolutely preposterous! Yes, there would have been an asjustment as our local SRS recipients adjusted to dealing with this state agency the same way thousands of other Kansans do, without a local office, but no one has told SRS recipients that they are losing a dime in benefits.

As the federal and state governments do what they must do to balance expenditures to revenues, we cannot continue to pick up the tab at the local level without dramatically increasing taxes or going just as broke as our governments.

jafs 3 years, 4 months ago

Except that this change in funding at the state level will not save any money - in fact, we're spending more money on the new administrative positions than we're "saving".

onceajhawkalwaysajhawk 3 years, 4 months ago

Unfortunately,we will never know how each commissioner REALLY feels about this decision because today's politicains have lost the vision of making honest and justified decisions for the community as a whole. The pressure by special interest groups (Yes even in Lawrence), to protect their reputations and re-election strategy is what drives their thought process... This is what is happening at the national, state, COUNTY and CITY levels.. Let's be honest, I don't think anyone who has posted comments on this subject objects to a local office of some size, but spending a quarter million dollars on 2 years of PARTIAL rent for THOUSANDS of sq ft. to Venture Realty Corp.(We know who that is...Example of a special interest group in Lawrence) is not prudent stewardship of tax dollars in this economy! All of the employees are keeping their jobs, but only a fraction of the sq. ft. and manpower is needed in Lawrence to provide local services to the clients.. ALL commissioners need to be asked to explain LJW!

Jean Robart 3 years, 4 months ago

ummmmm the vote was unanimous. Doesn't that give you a clue as to how each commissioner wanted to vote?

ToriFreak13 3 years, 4 months ago

Anyone that believes it is ok to be taxed twice, not to mention on a city level to support a state program that they have clearly acknowledged they can't support, should move to Bell, California.

irvan moore 3 years, 4 months ago

i wanna buy the riverfront mall, combination library, srs office, homeless shelter and lots of parking. win win for the citizens and taxpayers.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 3 years, 4 months ago

Looks like those who pay the least in taxes demand, again, the most from the taxpayers.

Jean Robart 3 years, 4 months ago

we aren't demanding anything. We are asking for help that we have paid for in the years we paid taxes. Haven't you ever been in need, CHIBW ?

Cant_have_it_both_ways 3 years, 4 months ago

I get it. You pay in $1.00 and demand $100's in return! God Bless America!

Gareth Skarka 3 years, 4 months ago

Note to self: NEVER read the comments. The ignorance and "I-got-mine-so-screw-everybody-else" attitude of the hayseeds is always out in full force.

otto 3 years, 4 months ago

The hayseeds that you speak of would have already helped out a neighbor in need and most likely already have. Nice reference.

kscountryboy 3 years, 4 months ago

I don't understand how the brilliant and superior citizens of Lawrence, ks can stand living in this state with us stupid hayseeds.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 4 months ago

This is not the worst case scenario. That being said if our tax dollars are going to be pulled from supporting a fine institution such as SRS then the state should not be able to keep those dollars only to divert them elsewhere such as corporate welfare aka white collar entitlements.

Send those tax dollars home thus allowing we local taxpayers the authority put that money into SRS. RINO's like Brownback have 30 documented years of tax dollar mismanagement in their portfolios. TWO major home loan fiascos that have cost taxpayers multitrillions of dollars and multi millions of jobs. Fiscal Conservative republicans do not think like Brownback.

tomatogrower 3 years, 4 months ago

Other communities beware. Lawrence has caved, you're next. Of course, Lawrence people care, so I'm not sure how many other communities would fund their offices. Obviously those who have closed offices never did. Would Topeka stand up and fund their office? Probably not. Overland Park, maybe. Wyandotte County? Probably, but they have signed much of their resources away on the whole Legend's area. Of course, it surely increased their sales tax.

Clara Westphal 3 years, 4 months ago

SRS is paying over $300,000 for rent. Someone should look into that too.

Soapbox 3 years, 4 months ago

Do not spend my local tax money on a state expense I have already paid for once...........This local action gave me no choice or vote. It is taxation without representation!!!!!!

Jean Robart 3 years, 4 months ago

you had the chance to voice your opinion at the county commission meeting. Where were you? The article said quite clearly that there were no opposing voices heard on the issue.

Soapbox 3 years, 4 months ago

I did not hear about the voting event .....when was the election..........what bill number? What ballot? I WANT TO VOTE! THERE WAS NONE!

jafs 3 years, 4 months ago

Send your complaints to the governor who chose to spend more money on new administrative positions that are being saved by not funding this office.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 4 months ago

"Probably, but they have signed much of their resources away on the whole Legend's area. Of course, it surely increased their sales tax."

Maybe but maybe not...

Legends has a "secret sales tax" that which may well be going directly back to the developers

Also Legends is sucking business away from others in which case may produce a negative gain in overall sales tax aka no net gain or maybe a loss.

onceajhawkalwaysajhawk 3 years, 4 months ago

All of us that are disgusted with the waste of tax money for paying rent on thousands of sq. ft. when a few hundred sq. ft. would support the staff needed to serve the local clients need to know that it was Gaughn's and Flory's political agenda to get this done. What a waste of money. Believe me, when we really need that $250,000 they will stict it to us AGAIN ! Shame on you guys..

jafs 3 years, 4 months ago

You're blaming the wrong people.

The governor's choice to create new administrative positions at SRS is costing us more than we're "saving" on the rent.

Also, there's a real legal question as to whether we could just break the lease without having to pay a lot of money to the landlord.

If the offices are too large, and the rent is too high, those are things that should be considered at the beginning of the process, before we sign a lease, rather than in the middle of the lease.

Just for fun, I'm trying to imagine 87 people working in a "few hundred square feet" of space - I guess that gives people about 3-4 sq. ft. each - they could stand there, but not even move around.

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