Topeka At least two other cities are trying to do what Lawrence did to keep its state welfare office in operation -- paying off the state with local funds.
Fort Scott in eastern Kansas and Pratt in western Kansas are meeting with Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services officials to come up with agreements to take their offices off of SRS' closure list.
"We have been in constant contact with the SRS group trying to come up with some sort of resolution," Fort Scott City Manager Dave Martin said Tuesday.
But Martin added the idea of paying the state to keep the office open was difficult to swallow. "We have a hard time throwing tax dollars at a state program," he said.
His comments echoed those of many in Lawrence after SRS announced that it would close the Lawrence office and eight others.
SRS Secretary Robert Siedlecki Jr. and Gov. Sam Brownback said the closures were necessary to save the state $1 million in administrative expenses. They said the thousands of people served by the Lawrence office could access assistance on the Internet or travel to SRS offices in other cities, such as Topeka.
Advocates for vulnerable Kansans said that wasn't realistic. After weeks of protest, the city of Lawrence and Douglas County agreed to pay $450,000 to help the state offset its costs to continue operating the SRS office for two years.
But some said the payment would set a precedent of shifting state costs to the local level.
Martin said he doesn't blame Lawrence and Douglas County officials for doing what they did.
"What I'm frustrated with is the whole situation. The whole thing was not handled or evaluated correctly," he said of SRS' closure announcement.
The Fort Scott office serves one of the poorest areas in the state. He said locals there will have to come up with $84,000 to keep the Fort Scott office open another two years.
David Howard, city manager of Pratt, said city and county officials there will decide next week whether to come up the $60,000 SRS says it would need to keep open the Pratt SRS office.
"Whether it's doable or not I don't know," Howard said. "Anytime you have to come up with additional funds, it causes problems."