Lawrence City Commission orders staff not to cut Lawrence Humane Society funding for next year – The Lawrence Times

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The Board also opts for the lower factory levy option; keep $7 million budget for roads, but maybe not Wakarusa

City of Lawrence commissioners gave staff a consensus on Tuesday to use federal COVID-19 relief funds to ensure the Lawrence Humane Society receives the same amount of funding in the city’s next budget as it has in recent years. years.

The initial budget proposed in July recommended a $100,000 cut in city funding for the Humane Society. A update last week instead recommended a smaller reduction of $35,000.

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But Humane Society staff and board members, along with many in the community, on Tuesday called on commissioners to keep the animal shelter fully funded, citing the many services it provides.

Katie Barnett, an attorney for the Lawrence Humane Society, also shared some comparisons with other cities: In Warrensburg, Missouri, the animal shelter is funded at about $7 per capita; Kansas City, Missouri is funded at about $6 per capita; and Ottawa’s is funded at about $4.87 per capita, Barnett said. City funding from the Lawrence Humane Society is about $3.70 per resident, she said.

“The money the city provides to the Lawrence Humane Society is actually very, very small when you compare other cities that have lump sum contracts,” Barnett said, “so I just urge you to consider fully funding the refuge.”

Commissioner Amber Sellers, following a suggestion made by someone in a public comment, asked if the city could take the $35,000 from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for this year.

Although Vice Mayor Lisa Larsen has said she opposes ‘kicking the road’ by using one-time funds for an expense that will continue for years to come, commissioners reached a consensus. consensus to maintain funding at the same level as previous years until the end. the use of ARPA dollars.

The Humane Society’s memorandum of understanding with the city was signed in 2018. It will come back to the commission at a later date for further discussion, and at that time funding could increase or decrease, depending on negotiations. .

Mill sampling: Commissioners also agreed to a slightly lower amount for the city’s factory tax to help offset an increase in the library’s share of the factory tax, which will cover staff salary increases.

However, property taxes will still rise significantly for many Lawrence residents, as most property values ​​have increased significantly this year.

Extension of Wakarusa, The last of three key takeaways from Tuesday’s meeting: Commissioners decided to keep funding for the city’s capital improvement plan that aimed to build a southern extension of Wakarusa Drive in the county — but they’re not not sure that’s where those funds will end up.

The $7 million the commission will set aside for road construction matches funding from the Kansas Department of Transportation.

KDOT funds will expand the West Branch of the South Lawrence Trafficway (aka Kansas Highway 10 between the US 59 Highway/Iowa Street and North 1800 Road interchanges) to four lanes. But the City and County of Douglas had to agree to fund an extension of Wakarusa Drive south about a mile and a half from where it currently ends near the SLT.

Several members of the public also spoke out on Tuesday with concerns about the potential impacts of the Wakarusa expansion project on wildlife and the environment. In addition, commissioners raised their own concerns.

“It’s not even within the city limits, and I just don’t think it’s appropriate for the city to build roads for the county,” Larsen said. “…We have to stay in our lane and we don’t pay for county roads.”

The amount will remain the same, but commissioners want to consider whether KDOT might allow the city to use it for different purposes.

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Mackenzie Clark (her), journalist/founder of the Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com or 785-422-6363. Read more about his work for The Times here. Check out his staff biography here.

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