City Of Lawrence Could Face Bankruptcy

Public Safety Jobs Could Be Eliminated

The city of Lawrence could be facing bankruptcy due to financial problems dating back to 2010.

At the crux of the city’s budget woes are jobs and benefits for firefighters and police officers.

Lawrence Mayor Dean Jessup has proposed budget cuts that would eliminate many public safety positions while saving the city about $2 million.

City leaders gathered Wednesday to discuss the budget crisis and hundreds of residents packed the council chambers to voice their concerns.

Tom Ashcraft spoke on behalf of Lawrence’s Fraternal Order of Police.

"You cannot continue to cut the budget anymore. It's time for a public safety tax,” Ashcraft said.

Firefighter Kris Kell said the budget cuts could put residents in harm’s way, RTV6’s Drew Smith reported.

“Homes and business will catch fire. People will get ill and injured, and crime will still need to be investigated. How long it takes for service to arrive will depend on the cuts that occur,” Kell said.

Emergency medical technician Jacqueline Bates said she hopes to be able to celebrate 10 years on the job in November.

“It's been very hard on all of us, this waiting, and not knowing what's going to happen to us,” Bates said.

Following a presentation outlining the budget woes since 2010, the council denied a request for Jessup to comment.

“We were called and contacted by the fire department and by the police department to be put on the agenda. We never got any call from the mayor's office to be put on the agenda (to speak),” said Linda Treat with the Lawrence Common Council.

Treat said she’s also in favor of saving EMS jobs.

“I think that we need to find every place that we can to cut money without directly going to the fire department and cutting out the EMS service,” she said.

A representative for Jessup said he would comment about the budget when he addresses the council on Monday.

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