Topeka City and county officials today asked Gov. Sam Brownback to reconsider the planned closure of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services office in Lawrence.
In a letter, written on behalf of the Lawrence city commission and Douglas County commissioners, officials say that many will lose SRS services and already strained agencies will be further strained.
"We write specifically to request complete reconsideration of the closure," says the letter signed by Lawrence Mayor Aron Cromwell and Jim Flory, chair of the Douglas County commissioners.
"It is imperative that the Department not only maintain services in our community, but that those service be provided by keeping the existing office intact rather than simply providing a presence in Lawrence, or expecting our residents to travel to other SRS regional offices to obtain services," the letter said.
The letter says those seeking SRS services are the least likely to be able to travel or use the Internet.
Brownback and his SRS Secretary Robert SIedlecki Jr. have said the closure of the Lawrence office and eight smaller ones across the state are needed to save money. They have said those receiving services can travel to other SRS offices in nearby cities or use the Internet.
Public outcry over the Lawrence closure has been extensive. Meetings on the issue over a one-week period have drawn more than 1,000 people.
On Tuesday, Douglas County commissioners are scheduled to hear from local agencies to assess what additional costs they will face if the SRS office is shut down.
"We need to assess what the cost impacts are on the local entities," said County Administrator Craig Weinaug.
"It would seem to be a relevant consideration for the state to consider as a part of their closing decision. Hopefully that information will be helpful as they hopefully evaluate whether this would be a good decision for the Kansas taxpayer," he said.