The new role being considered for Douglas County Senior Services could make that agency an even more important player in attracting retirees to Lawrence and providing the services they want once they get here.
Earlier this year, a city-county task force charged with studying how to attract more retirees to Lawrence and Douglas County recommended the addition of a new staff position to spearhead those efforts. Rather than create a new city or county staff position, it makes perfect sense to fold this task into an existing agency already focused on serving the community’s senior population.
The DCSS board already has approved changes to its bylaws to accommodate the expanded role. Those changes authorize the city and county to make direct appointments to the board, which currently is self-appointed. That will make the agency more accountable to local government and promote the coordination of services and programs for local seniors.
The expanded role for DCSS also will require some expanded funding, and the board has asked the city and county to split the cost of hiring a new executive director and perhaps other staff that will be needed to allow the agency to take on a more active and professional role in the community. Some physical upgrades to the Lawrence Senior Center at Eighth and Vermont streets also are in order.
Lawrence city commissioners will soon consider a cooperation agreement formalizing the new goals and relationship with DCSS. County commissioners likely will consider the same agreement early next month.
DCSS should be the community’s “go-to” agency for senior services and activities. The agency does a laudable job of providing transportation, meals and other services, but the expanded role being envisioned would help broaden the agency’s offerings and make it an even more attractive and active part of the community. It’s a good idea that is worthy of some local government investment.