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City alcohol advisory board member resigns in protest

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The city's Special Alcohol Fund Advisory Board has never been as much fun as it sounds. But these days it is particularly less than jovial. One board member, Branden Bell, has resigned from the board in protest of city commissioners deviating from the board's recommendation on how to spend the approximately $595,000 in special alcohol tax money the city receives from the state. Speculation is that another member is set to resign. On a side note, imagine how many planning commissioners we would have left if there were resignations after every time the City Commission deviated from that board's recommendations. But back on topic. At issue is the City Commission's decision - for the second year in a row - to use about $250,000 of the alcohol tax money to supplement the Lawrence Police Department's budget. Specifically, the alcohol tax money is being used to pay the salaries of three of the six police officers who serve as school resource officers. Using a portion of the alcohol tax money for a city department has meant there has been less money to award to outside agencies. For the second year in a row, Bert Nash's WRAP program- which also works with Lawrence students - has gotten caught in the squeeze. Bert Nash leaders asked for about $200,000 in alcohol tax money for the WRAP program. The alcohol advisory board recommended WRAP receive $50,000. But a City Commission committee made up of Commissioners Mike Amyx and Sue Hack recommended that WRAP not receive any alcohol funding, in part, to allow the school resource officers to be funded. City commissioners also decreased the recommendations of several other outside agencies. See the complete list [here.][1]City commissioners thus far haven't been swayed to change their minds. They say funding the school resources officers is an important effort in discouraging underage drinking. They've also had their staff attorney [research][2] the issue to show that it is legal to use the alcohol tax money to fund police salaries. Commissioners also have said they still have some hope of the Lawrence school district providing the necessary funding for the WRAP program. That was [mentioned][3] as a possible use of local option budget money that voters approved in April. But school district leaders have not committed to that yet, partially because they're still in salary negotiations with teachers. Regardless, the social service agencies that traditionally have received the bulk of the alcohol tax money are planning a joint press conference for either late July or early August to protest the City Commission's actions. Lynne Green, executive director of Van Go Mobile Arts, said she thinks it is a bad precedent for the City Commission to use the alcohol tax money to fund city departments instead of social service agencies. [1]: http://www.lawrenceks.org/study_sessions/2008/06-09-08/06-09-08h/funding_recommendations.html [2]: http://www.lawrenceks.org/study_sessions/2008/07-14-08/07-14-08h/ls_budget_09_CO33.html [3]: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2008/jan...

Comments

lostcreek 5 years, 8 months ago

If you can't deside what project to fund don't fund any and my beer will be less.

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Multidisciplinary 5 years, 9 months ago

Anyone notice this group got more money, when they didn't request an increase?Transient Guest Tax Reserve Fund 150,000 150,000 0.00% 154,500

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feeble 5 years, 9 months ago

Pray tell, how much drinking goes on at school? If Lawrence wanted to step up enforcement of drinking age laws, why not provide more funding for programs that target bars or liquor stores.

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 9 months ago

It would make too much sense for the city to get its budget under control when there are funds available to be hijacked.

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kansasrose 5 years, 9 months ago

I agree with Lynne Green. These agencies are already struggling and it doesn't seem the least bit fair to go after these funds for city services. I'm sure these resource officers are valuable, but not at the expense of these other agencies providing direct support of Lawrence youth.

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Ragingbear 5 years, 9 months ago

The boards,panels, committees and whatnot are NEVER looked at by the city commission. They are just there to try and placate people. Remember the city commission on homelessness? Remember how they protested "Simon's Law" when it came out that this entire law was created without them even being informed? Remember how they sent a rep to throw a fit at the meeting? It's like that with every board or panel. There is no oversight, or obligation.

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d_prowess 5 years, 9 months ago

After looking over that spreadsheet, I am glad I am not part of those decisions. I have to believe it would be incredibly difficult to try to decide what program gets what funding and how much. I think it is valuable in this day and age to have school resource officers in the school, but I also think the WRAP program looks valuable too, along with all of the programs listed there. Tough times and tough choices...

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