LAWRENCE, Kan. — The City of Lawrence reviewed city manager Greg Owens’ recommended budget for 2023 and cuts to the Lawrence Humane Society have raised concerns for residents and volunteers.
The recommended budget would reduce the Humane Society’s budget by $100,000.
Owens’ budget recommends the reprioritization of the city’s resources and shuffles money to increase funds for economic development, IT infrastructure and cybersecurity.
Hundreds of emails from concerned voters opposed the proposed cuts to the Humane Society, citing the city’s need for the services the organization provides.
According to the city’s contract with the City of Lawrence, the Humane Society has received $365,000 in annual funds which helps fund many of its programs like the Crisis Pet Retention Program.
“If you’re looking at the score, and the Humane Society is within the patrol, which is ranked at 57.8, but we got two other line items within the police budget that are ranked lower, actually three. Why aren’t we looking at these other line items to pull that money from if that’s what we need,” Vice Mayor Lisa Larsen said.
According to Deputy Chief Anthony Brixius, the Humane Society’s budget falls within the Lawrence Police Department’s budget in the Safe and Secure category due to the relationship with Animal Control.
“I don’t know that the Humane Society necessarily falls within the context of [Safe and Secure] in the police department budget, or the SAS’s that are included in the police department. It may fall with other places in the city,” Brixius said at the Tuesday meeting. “What we’re looking at is, what services is the Humane Society providing for the police department and what are we paying for those services.”
Deputy Chief Brixius said the department is looking at what services are being used and how much money is being allocated for them.
“We’re starting to look at what services we’re utilizing and are we paying the correct amount for that,” Brixius said. “It doesn’t necessarily mean that the humane society is not providing a valuable service to the city as a whole.”
The proposed cuts to the Humane Society coincide with the proposed closure of the Prairie Park Nature Center.
During the City Commission on Tuesday, the public comment sessions took more than two hours as several people voiced their opposition to the closure.
Another budget hearing is scheduled for Aug. 23 and the budget will be adopted on Sept. 6.