The city’s 2014 budget process is nearing its “speak now or forever hold your peace” portion of the proceedings.
Lawrence city commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting will be asked to set the maximum dollar amount for the 2014 budget, which also marks the last feasible chance for residents to argue to have a new program or spending item added to the budget.
Commissioners are expected to hear a few such requests from organizations that don’t currently have their full funding requests included in City Manager David Corliss’ recommended budget.
“That has been one of the themes of this budget,” Corliss said. “There are several organizations and departments who are moving up a bit, but they aren’t getting all that they want.”
Here’s a look at some of the issues that commissioners will be asked to decide:
• A request for nearly $14,000 in additional funding for the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department. The funding would help cover increasing lab costs for testing for AIDS, chlamydia and gonorrhea. Corliss has not included the funding in his recommended budget.
But in a letter to city commissioners, Health Department Director Dan Partridge is asking commissioners to reconsider the recommendation.
“This request represents a fraction of the cost shifting from state to local that we have experienced recently,” Partridge said.
• A $50,000 request for additional funding for the Lawrence Public Library. Corliss is recommending the library receive a $100,000 increase, which amounts to about a 3 percent budget increase for the library. But library leaders had sought a $175,000 increase to position the library for its move into its expanded downtown space.
But Corliss notes the library won’t be moving into the expanded space until mid-2014, and the 3 percent budget increase is more than most other city departments are receiving.
Library leaders now have modified their request and are seeking an additional $50,000, rather than the $75,000. The $50,000 would be used to hire two full-time customer service positions and two part-time custodians, said Joan Golden, chair of the library’s board of trustees
Corliss has said he anticipates the library’s 2015 budget to receive a significant boost to staff the larger library. Leaders of the library, though, have said they are concerned about the period of several months in 2014 when the new library might be short-staffed.
“We just want to be able to really put our best foot forward,” Golden said.
• $200,000 or more to provide security personnel to staff metal detectors at City Hall, Municipal Court and other city-owned buildings. The staffed metal detectors will be necessary to allow the city to exempt itself from a change in state law that allows concealed carry permit holders to bring their weapons into public buildings.
As previously reported, Corliss’ recommended budget doesn’t include funding for the service. Corliss said he’s had individual discussions with commissioners recently about the issue.
“I think they still are going to need to have a discussion about the level of priority for those security items,” Corliss said. “Whether they do it for one facility and not another is going to be one of the questions.”
• $57,000 to fund an increase for the Lawrence Humane Society. Leaders of the animal shelter have said they’ve done a detailed analysis of what it costs the shelter to serve as the designated animal pound for the city, and believe the increased funding is needed for the shelter to break even on the service. Corliss’ recommended budget includes a $20,000 increase for the animal shelter, but the group had asked for a nearly $80,000 increase.
• $30,000 to provide funding for a marketing campaign to attract retirees to the city.
• $10,000 to be given as a gift to Lawrence’s sister city of Eutin, Germany. The $10,000 would serve as sponsorship of Eutin’s open-air opera festival, Eutiner Festspiele. The funding request came to the city recently from Robert Walzel, dean of the KU School of Music.
City commissioners will meet at 4 p.m. Tuesday for a study session to discuss a host of budget issues. Commissioners then will meet at 6:35 p.m. to vote on setting the maximum dollar amount for the budget.