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From animals to art, library to law enforcement, city has long list of funding requests for 2014


It is not only the season for George Brett tattoos and Royal-blue face paint. (I assume we’re all doing that to celebrate Brett’s recent return the Royals’ bench. Aren’t we???)

Oh well, it is also budget season at Lawrence City Hall. And that means city commissioners have a long list of monetary requests from city departments and outside agencies to consider. That process gets started in earnest at a 3:30 p.m. study session Tuesday at City Hall.

Here’s a look at some of the requests:

• The Lawrence Public Library is requesting an extra $173,000 in its budget — about a 5 percent increase — to fund operations at the new and expanded library facility. But the extra money won’t be going to buy more books or other items to fill the shelves. The biggest factors in the request are a 12 percent increase in health insurance premiums and a state-mandated increase in contributions to the KPERS pension program for employees. The library’s $3.4 million budget also doesn’t include many new employees to run the library, which will about double in size. The library is creating two new positions — a book stack manager and a technology position — but those positions will be added through a staff reorganization rather than a staff expansion. As for books and other reading materials, the library’s budget holds those expenses steady at $540,000. It is worth noting, however, that the library isn’t expected to move into its new facility until the spring or summer of 2014, so its 2015 budget may be a better indicator of how much it will cost to run the larger library.

• The Lawrence Community Shelter also is learning how to operate in a larger facility. The homeless shelter is seeking $100,000 in general tax funds to operate the shelter. That’s an increase of $8,000 over 2013 totals. The shelter also is set to receive $44,000 in liquor tax funds from the city. That’s the same amount it received in 2014.

• Douglas County officials are asking the city to provide about $135,000 to add four dispatchers to the jointly operated Emergency Communications Center, which handles all 911 calls in the county. It will be interesting to watch this one. The city and county have clashed in past years on some of these jointly funded ventures. Past administrations have negotiated the cost-sharing agreements, and city officials recently have expressed dissatisfaction with some of them. In this case, the city pays 66 percent of the operating costs of the center, while the county pays 34 percent. Other cities in the county, such as a Baldwin and Eudora, don’t directly pay for any of the costs, although their police departments also use the dispatching service. The bigger issue, though, is that city officials feel like city residents are getting taxed twice for the service because Lawrence residents also pay county taxes. County officials have indicated the arrangement is fair because a large majority of calls come from Lawrence residents.

• The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department — another jointly funded agency — is seeking about a $13,000 increase in city funding, about a 2 percent increase. The city pays for about 20 percent of the department’s operating budget, while the county, grants and user fees pay for the rest of the approximately $3.3 million budget. The city, however, may be on the hook for significant costs related to the Community Health Building, which houses the Health Department, Bert Nash and the Visiting Nurses Association. The city and county currently are gathering estimates to increase security at the building. The city would be obligated to pay half of those costs, which haven’t yet been determined.

• On the law enforcement front, a major increase in funding may depend on a grant application. City commissioners are being asked to apply for an $875,000 federal grant that would provide funding for seven school resource officers for the next three years. The city would have to provide about $460,000 in matching funds for the grant. The new school resource officers, which would be in addition to the four school resource officers the city already has in place, would allow each high school and all the middle schools to have a dedicated officer. Currently, high schools and middle schools often share officers. The city would find out whether it has won the competitive grant funding by the beginning of 2014. As we have previously reported, the police department also has several other facility and equipment needs, but those probably merit a separate discussion since they could total $20 million or more. Whether city commissioners have any interest in having that discussion during this budget round will be one of the key things to watch during Tuesday’s study session.

• City Manager David Corliss is recommending the city budget $120,000 to help Johnson County pay for the K-10 Connector transit service that runs between Lawrence and portions of Johnson County. That amount is proposed to grow to $275,000 by 2016. Johnson County officials have said the popular commuter service is at risk of being closed down if Lawrence officials don’t assist in funding the program.

• The city attorney’s office is estimating it will need about $138,000 more to cover the costs of housing prisoners in the Douglas County Jail and also for providing defense services to indigent clients who come through Lawrence Municipal Court.

• Public Works would like to add an additional maintenance worker — at a cost of about $45,000 — to help care for the new parking garage that is being built next to the expanded library.

• The Lawrence Humane Society is seeking a nearly 35 percent increase in city funding for 2014. It is seeking $377,000 in funding to care for the stray animals that the city’s animal control officers bring to the facility.

• The Lawrence Arts Center is asking for more money on multiple fronts. The center, which is housed in a city-owned building, is seeking $51,000 in general city funding to pay for a new custodial position, increase technical staff and increased maintenance. The center also is seeking an additional $25,000 from the city’s liquor tax revenues to provide scholarships to children who can’t afford to pay for classes and programs. The city currently provides $25,000 for scholarships, but center leaders say demand is high. The center provided $100,000 worth of scholarships in the last year. The Arts Center also is seeking about $15,000 for a new phone system, and about $20,000 to upgrade the building’s kitchen, which serves a variety of events.

• Finally, there are a host of social service agencies and other not-for-profits that request funding from the city each year. A city advisory board is recommending that most of the funding amounts to those organizations hold steady for 2014. But that’s not the case in every instance. You can look at the entire list here.


skinny 4 years, 12 months ago

Wonder where they think the money is going to come from??

Time to start cutting taxes, not raising them!

chootspa 4 years, 12 months ago

I guess you've been living under a rock lately, because the state already cut the taxes by a third.

Jonathan Fox 4 years, 12 months ago

How do we approve a massive, multi-million dollar expansion of the public library (which only about 55% of Lawrence voters wanted) without considering the cost to staff the thing?

I'm also stunned that a new library and recreation center are higher on the city's list of priorities than the police station expansion that has been on the back burner for a number of years now. Lawrence has grown really fast in the last five years, same as it has for a long time. It's time the police station expanded with it. I'd much rather have an adequate police force and facility than a fancy library or another rec center that not many people wanted to have to keep paying for.

mdlund0 4 years, 12 months ago

To answer your questions, mostly in order: Despite funding the construction of a building (a one time cost), you do not request a budget increase for operations (continuous costs) until you need them. This cost was foreseen and anyone who didn't consider it was a fool. Also, 55% is a majority. Lawrence has not "really grown in the last 5 years". In fact, it has hardly grown at all, which is why we're still scratching our heads over how to expand our water treatment facilities. Models of past growth are not accurately forecasting the future. In a city with no homicides in the past 5 years and an extremely low rate of other violent crimes, how badly do we really need to spend 20 million dollars on a new police facility?

Food_for_Thought 4 years, 12 months ago

Extremely low rate of other/ violent crimes? Best you should check your fact sources. Lawrence is one of the highest in the state, next to Wichita, Kansas City, and Topeka.

jack22 4 years, 12 months ago

Fred, the same way we approved the building of a massive recreation center without considering the maintenance and other related costs. We'll be lucky if the recreation center only costs us a half a million dollars in utility, maintenance, and other unforeseen expenses every year.

chootspa 4 years, 12 months ago

The extra KPERS cost was imposed at the state level after the funding for the building was already approved at the city level.

kinder_world 4 years, 12 months ago

The library vote was much less that 55%. After researching old JW stories, there were approx. just under 80,000 registered voters. Those voting against the library were approx. 10,495. Those voting for approx. 12, 840. If you subtract those voting against from those voting for the library, the project is being built for 2,345 voters.

d_prowess 4 years, 12 months ago

Can any non-profit in town request funds? Or is there some connection to the city that has be to met first?

Chad Lawhorn 4 years, 12 months ago

Any of them can request. The city has an open application period. Thanks, Chad.

skinny 4 years, 12 months ago

Best places to retire for under $40K


We don't see Lawrence, Kansas in there do we???

Wake up City Commissioners!!

Catalano 4 years, 12 months ago

I checked out your link, but, damn, so many are in the South and that's so not where I want to move to. Especially San Antonio...it's in freaking TEXAS!

Anthony Mall 4 years, 12 months ago

So you want Lawrence to filled with retiree's and students? Wow!

Stephanie Hull 4 years, 12 months ago

Why don't residents of Eudora and Baldwin have to pay something for the dispatch services? I realize the majority of the calls call from Lawrence, and we should certainly pay more than the other towns, but it does seem like those residents should have to kick in something in addition to their county taxes since we have to do so.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 12 months ago

Our CC always makes it seem like the sky is falling while at the same handing out millions of dollars in OUR tax money to developers in a variety of ways.

They claim that our local developers will not build IF WE TAXPAYERS don't pay them to do so. Nonsense I say. Where are they going to go? Lawrence is such easy prey.

How is it Lawrence,Kansas does not need all of the tax dollars we can get our hands on?

It is not improving my quality of life guaranteeing developers a profit on their wild for profit ventures.

Liberty275 4 years, 11 months ago

They should answer all except the classroom cop things with a with a no. All of our money has already been spent on a library and a soccer field.

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