The year-old Dwayne Peaslee Technical Training Center will be able to “sustain” its current operations if the Lawrence City Commission grants $150,000 the city manager is recommending in 2017 — and if Douglas County also contributes.
Though the amount allocated to Peaslee under City Manager Tom Markus’ recommendations would be more than in 2016, it only partially meets the total its director, Marvin Hunt, sought for the technical education center’s growth. Going forward, Hunt is planning to find another revenue stream, he said.
“I did request more, but the $150,000, with the county side of it, would accomplish my request for sustainability,” Hunt said. “For future years, there will be growth. I don’t believe we’re going to be static.”
Markus recommended Peaslee receive $25,000 of a $50,000 growth request, part of which was requested to go toward the creation of a new lab dedicated to plumbing and electrical education. He’s also recommending it receive $125,000 of a $145,105 request for operations.
Hunt is also seeking a supplemental $95,105 from Douglas County.
Both the Lawrence and Douglas County commissions are in the process of reviewing their budgets. At a July 12 meeting, Douglas County Commissioner Jim Flory said it may be possible to use some of the money the county earmarks for economic development initiatives to fund Peaslee, the Journal-World reported.
Markus said at a July 12 City Commission meeting that he recommended Peaslee receive some extra funds — even though cuts have been suggested elsewhere to balance the budget — because the center had been “struggling for the financing.”
When work on Peaslee was underway in 2014, it was denied a $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. Hunt noted the center has relied on the city, county, Economic Development Corporation and private donations.
“One of the first things I saw when I came to this town was the effort this community is making toward workforce development,” Markus said. “This really is an outstanding approach to it. Unfortunately, it was supposed to start with some pretty sizable federal grant dollars, and that didn’t occur.”
The Journal-World reported July 12 that a group was planning a three-step approach with Peaslee, starting with fundraising, then making needed renovations and repairs at the center, and later identifying a revenue stream to support it.