Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

City Hall leaders looking to eliminate four advisory boards, consolidate several others

Lawrence City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St., Thursday, July 7, 2016

Lawrence City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St., Thursday, July 7, 2016

August 7, 2017

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The Lawrence City Commission is looking to eliminate some of the more than 40 committees and advisory boards that fall under its purview.

At their work session Tuesday, commissioners will discuss a recommendation from city staff to consolidate five boards and eliminate a handful of others. The task was one the commission identified as a priority during strategic planning earlier this year.

“It was trying to streamline the overall number and trying to gain efficiencies, both in terms of the way the boards are functioning but also the staff involved in the boards,” said Assistant City Manager Diane Stoddard.

Currently, there are 44 local boards or commissions that the City Commission oversees or interacts with. Those include boards required by law, such as the planning commission and board of zoning appeals, but also boards created to provide policy recommendations on a range of specific issues.

“There’s really quite a gamut of different functions among the boards depending on what they were created for,” Stoddard said.

For one, city staff is recommending that the six construction code appeals boards — for building, electrical, mechanical, plumbing, fire, and contractor licensing — be combined into a single board, according to a memo to the City Commission.

It’s also recommended that the commission consolidate the following boards: the Joint Economic Development Council and Public Incentive Review Committee; the Lawrence Alliance and Human Relations Commission; the Social Service Funding Advisory Board and Transient Guest Tax Program Advisory Board; and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and Lawrence Cultural Arts Commission.

Stoddard said those boards have overlaps.

“What we were looking for is some boards or committees that seem to have functions or areas of their focus that seem to be related or somehow complement one another,” Stoddard said.

City staff is recommending the commission eliminate four boards: Sister Cities Advisory Board, Community Development Advisory Committee, Homeless Issues Advisory Committee and Sales Tax Audit Committee, according to the memo. Stoddard pointed out that if, in the future, the commission wanted to address issues in the realm of those boards, it could create a temporary task force.

Summaries of the recommended eliminations are below:

• The Sales Tax Audit Committee ensures that the expenditures related to the 10-year additional citywide sales taxes (2008-2018) are spent on what was authorized by voters. The committee receives reports from city staff and makes recommendations to the commission. City staff recommends the committee stay in place through the sales tax period but that if voters renew the sales tax for another 10 years that the reports can be shared directly with the City Commission.

• The Homeless Issues Advisory Committee receives quarterly reports from agencies involved in serving the homeless. The committee is being recommended for elimination because it does not have a regular function identified in city code and has not recently passed along recommendations to the City Commission.

• The Sister Cities Advisory Board advises the commission and assists the student exchange program with Eutin, Germany; Hiratsuka, Japan; and Iniades, Greece. The Sister Cities program maintains its own nonprofit organization, and city staff believes the program could function more efficiently if a city staff liaison were assigned to attend meetings instead of maintaining a city board.

• The Community Development Advisory Committee makes recommendations to the City Commission relating to the expenditure of federal Community Development Block Grant and HOME funds. The committee is being recommended for elimination because the amount of those funds have “significantly dwindled” in past years and many cities have staff make spending recommendations with a hearing before the City Commission.

Staff is also recommending that city code be updated to reflect that three boards are obsolete. Those boards are the Lawrence Advisory Board on University Student Issues, Downtown Parking Advisory Board and the ECO2 Commission. The boards are no longer functioning and do not have appointees.

The commission will not make any decisions as part of its work session Tuesday, but will discuss the recommendations and provide direction to city staff. Stoddard said any changes to advisory boards or committees would be a part of the commission’s regular agenda at future meetings.

The City Commission will convene at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St.

Comments

Michael Kort 3 months, 2 weeks ago

I just find it funny that the city would want to combine construction building code appeals boards dealing with Building Structural Issues, Plumbing, Wiring, Mechanical, Fire protection and Contractor Licensing, all rolled into one big overloaded constipated mess, that will certainly not do justice to any of the above issues .

Make it faster, cheaper and lighter is the money pit matrum !.....for a three ring circus .

Builders that cut corners, governments that want to be business friendly and potential homeowners who are clueless about what they are buying and driven by price and financing issues .

The city can do this thing but that doesn't mean that it is going to end well .

Bob Summers 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Just four? Seriously?

Four. That's like having 40 ticks on your body and only picking off 4.

What a joke.

David Holroyd 3 months, 2 weeks ago

The commissioners were elected on their experience in the private sector and the public sector. Now I find that is bogus. They have no experience. They should let the staff run the show, since they take the staff's advice. Don't they realize that the staff is just reducing the workload for themselves!

Time to reduce the staff!

Time for the commissioners to make some decisions themselves and direct Mr. Markus to carry out the decisions.

but wait......could this be that Mr. Markus wants the positons eliminated so that he has control of the situation....like he was adamant in eliminating the city auditor.

Mr. Tom Markus does not want anyone watching over his back.

It will take years to clean up this mess...left behind...higher taxes, higher fees, higher salaries,,,the staff will want a raise next.

The commission already gave Mr.Markus a blank check to spend money without their approval. Remember?

Clara Westphal 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Why is there such a rush to get rid of auditors?

David Holroyd 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Clara, heard at the swap meet that the auditor was a thorn in Mr. Markus side,,,after all, who wants someone watching you and the auditor reported to the commission,,not the city manager. Markus wants full control.....the commissioners are secondary to the operation at city hall.

BUT I want to know who is on the Mausoluem Roof Committee.. After all, the roof is going to be replaced according to Toni Wheeler and certainly the committtee in charge can get a roof replaced. Mr. Markus can't get the job done.....no glory in a roof!

Promises , promises,,,,,time to revive the story...Journal World and start roofing!

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