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City alcohol advisory board member resigns in protest
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.]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] 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] 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. : http://www.lawrenceks.org/study_sessions/2008/06-09-08/06-09-08h/funding_recommendations.html : http://www.lawrenceks.org/study_sessions/2008/07-14-08/07-14-08h/ls_budget_09_CO33.html : http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2008/jan...