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City close to settling on social service funding

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There was a lot of talk about social service funding during last April’s Lawrence City Commission election. In particular, there was a lot of hand-wringing over potential city funding cuts to social service agencies, but several candidates said they would make it a goal to at least hold social service funding steady.

So, as the city prepares its 2010 budget, how are they doing?

So far, so good.

City Manager David Corliss’ recommended budget essentially keeps all social service and other outside agency funding steady at 2009 levels.

Here’s a look at all the different outside entities the city provides funding for, the amount they’re slated to receive in 2010, and how that compares with 2009 funding levels:

The following funding comes from city property taxes: • Douglas County Legal Aid: $40,000, no change. • Lawrence Humane Society: $256,320, no change. • Downtown Lawrence Inc: $42,500, no change. • Lawrence Chamber of Commerce: $185,500, no change. • Lawrence Douglas County Bioscience Authority: $200,000, no change. • Lawrence Douglas County Bioscience Incubator: $75,000, no change. • Ballard Community Center: $7,500, no change. • Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence: $143,722, no change. • Douglas County CASA: $20,000, no change. • TFI Family Services: $6,750, no change. • Ecumenical Minister’s Fellowship: $4,000, no change. • Health Care Access pharmacy program: $26,000, no change. • Bert Nash Homeless Outreach Team: $164,000, no change. • Lawrence Community Shelter: $57,000, up from $27,000. The shelter in 2010 will begin receiving some city funding that previously went to The Salvation Army since The Salvation Army no longer operates a homeless shelter. • Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority: $0, down from $13,192. • The Salvation Army: $24,000, down from $40,000. • Housing & Credit Counseling: $17,100, no change. • Jayhawk Area Agency on Aging: $7,400, no change. • Lawrence Arts Center: $90,000, no change. • The Shelter Inc: $32,000, no change. • Van Go Mobile Arts: $35,000, no change. • Warm Hearts: $6,000, no change. • Women’s Transitional Care Service: $6,000, no change.

The following funding comes from the city’s guest tax, which is charged to customers at Lawrence hotels and motels: • Destination Management/Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau: $685,560, up from $684,300. • Guest tax reserve fund: $154,500, no change. This fund is often used to pay the city’s share of various special events in the community. • Sister Cities Advisory Board: $7,500, no change.

The following funding comes from the city’s share of the state liquor tax: • Lawrence Arts Center Scholarships: $25,000, no change. • Lawrence Arts Commission: $25,000, no change. • Ballard Community Center: $4,500, no change. • Big Brothers/Big Sisters: $27,000, no change. • Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence: $100,000, no change. • DCCCA: $41,000, no change. • First Step House: $29,150, no change. • Headquarters Inc.: $22,500, no change. • Lawrence Community Shelter: $27,000, no change. • Lawrence Police Department: $250,000, no change. The money is used to help fund school resource officers. • Van Go Mobile Arts Inc.: $44,000, no change. • Women’s Transitional Care Services: $17,000, no change.

City Commissioner Aron Cromwell served on a city committee that came up with the recommended funding levels. He believes his fellow city commissioners will leave the recommendations largely unchanged.

“I think the will of the commission is to protect these vulnerable agencies at a time when they really need it,” Cromwell said. “And the good thing is that it wasn’t that hard to do because it is not an enormous part of the city budget.”

All told, the city is slated to provided $2,906,002 to outside agencies in 2010, out of a total budget of $157,707,300.

When it comes to social service funding, one other interesting promise was made during the campaign. Cromwell promised to donate his City Commission salary to social service agencies. He said he plans to follow through on that, but hasn’t yet selected all the agencies that he’ll provide funding to.

“I plan to spread it around,” said Cromwell, who said he anticipates making donations to the Lawrence Humane Society, the Lawrence Community Shelter and several other local groups.

Commissioners make $9,000 per year, before taxes.

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