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Archive for Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Dever elected mayor as Lawrence city commission swears in new members

April 16, 2013

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It has been a year of big projects at Lawrence City Hall but one that hasn’t stretched the city’s checkbook, outgoing Mayor Bob Schumm said in his State of the City address Tuesday.

“I want to reiterate that the city of Lawrence has a strong financial ability to carry out and fund projects that other cities cannot,” Schumm said. “Our city has saved and invested over many years to create reserves that place us in a financially secure position.”

Schumm on Tuesday ended his one-year term as mayor — he’ll stay on the governing body as a commissioner. As expected, Vice-Mayor Mike Dever unanimously was elected by his fellow commissioners to serve a one-year term as mayor. Tradition at Lawrence City Hall holds that the vice-mayor will be elevated to the mayoral position.

Also sticking with tradition, Commissioner Mike Amyx — a downtown barbershop owner who was the top vote winner in this month’s citywide election — was elected as vice-mayor. That puts the five-term commissioner in line to serve as mayor in 2014.

Newly-elected commissioners Jeremy Farmer, the director of a local food bank, and Terry Riordan, a Lawrence physician, were sworn into their terms on the commission. Aron Cromwell and Hugh Carter both left the commission after neither sought re-election during the recent election.

On a night mainly filled with ceremony and reflection, commissioners looked back on a year that included votes to move ahead on a $25 million recreation center, a $64 million sewage treatment plant, construction work on a $19 million library expansion, and creation of a new citywide curbside recycling program that will begin next year.

Schumm said he knows that the past 12 months have been “filled with questions about the city’s capacity” to fund the host of projects. But he pointed to the city’s continued high bond rating — Aa1 — and that the city’s various accounts routinely have about $120 million in cash and investments, “which puts the city in good shape to embark on some very exciting and necessary projects.”

Several of the recently approved projects also have come with either tax or fee increases. Voters approved a property tax increase to fund the library, and commissioners approved sewer rate increases to fund the sewage treatment plant, and trash rate increases to fund the curbside recycling program.

Dever — an owner of a Lawrence-based environmental consulting firm — has said he isn’t planning on initiating a number of new projects during his term as mayor but rather will focus on following through on the projects that are underway.

On Tuesday, he said that would keep him plenty busy.

“We’ve accomplished goals that I really didn’t think we could get done in the time period we had,” Dever said. “This commission has worked so well together. I think the main reason is because we all have the best interests of the city in mind and have no one special group to cater to.”

Comments

Lawrence Morgan 1 year, 8 months ago

Dever: "We all have the best interests of the city in mind and have no special group to cater to."

Unlike the previous commission, Schumm in particular, who had particular projects he wanted to get through at the expense of the public, and he did.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 8 months ago

"Schumm said he knows that the past 12 months have been “filled with questions about the city’s capacity” to fund the host of projects."

No, the questions are about the ability of the city commission to operate in an open and transparent manner while obligating the city to spend a good deal of its tax base on what appears to be a project whose primary purpose does nothing to satisfy the needs of the taxpayers who will pay for it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 8 months ago

There was a public vote on the library and the T, and no secret negotiations.

I'd say "nice try," but I'd be lying.

jhawkinsf 1 year, 8 months ago

Are you saying that decisions made by our elected officials are somehow less legitimate than those decided by direct elections? Or are the decisions made by direct vote simply wiser decisions (think Prop. 13)?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 8 months ago

I'm saying what I said in the original post above.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 8 months ago

The reckless spending required all of them.

I say grab your wallets. This crew believes tons of new construction going on when people are visiting Lawrence will convince visitors this is the place to live and buy houses. Which only expands the high tax dollar bedroom community. Also they are convinced if more people move in to fill all of the many empty rooftops the real estate industry can build more retail. Very Chamber of Commerce like.

Not only that this city commission and city hall is of the opinion that stealing jobs away from other communities is the answer = zero creativity = no new jobs as such. And will cost taxpayers tons of bribe money only to have the new employment leave town with a new bribe from elsewhere.

The real estate industry operating under these scenario's is more of liability to a community. in the nation the overall economy is still short and should move on to a new measure of the economy. New construction is not an accurate source.

lunatic 1 year, 8 months ago

Bozo says a project whose primary purpose does nothing to satisfy the needs of the taxpayers who will pay for it. I presume you are referring to RCP, and if that is the case you clearly did not engage in any reading of the studies that absolutely showed we have a shortage of gym space in Lawrence.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 8 months ago

Actually, I read further than the propaganda you swallowed whole, (from the organization the city was using as a source,) and the real story is that in terms of what most cities this size has available, there is no shortage of gym space in Lawrence. As a matter of fact, we have more than the average.

But this new gym space won't even be available to local people for over half the weekends of the year.

zaxback 1 year, 8 months ago

Really Bozo?! Because two kids of friends of mine were in Tonganoxie last night until 9:45 for basketball practice because there was no gyms in Lawrence that were available.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 8 months ago

Well, don't expect that these gyms that will be out for hire to the highest bidder will keep you from driving your kids to Tongy.

As an aside, does Tongy have too many gyms?

Richard Heckler 1 year, 8 months ago

"Dever — an owner of a Lawrence-based environmental consulting firm — has said he isn’t planning on initiating a number of new projects during his term as mayor but rather will focus on following through on the projects that are underway.

On Tuesday, he said that would keep him plenty busy.

“We’ve accomplished goals that I really didn’t think we could get done in the time period we had,” Dever said. “This commission has worked so well together.

I think the main reason is because we all have the best interests of the city in mind and have no one special group to cater to.”

Who is he trying to convince?

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