New Lawrence ordinance appropriates new public safety funds


An ordinance proposing about $1.1 million primarily to fund public safety needs in the City of Lawrence was introduced during the Lawrence Common Council’s regular Aug. 16 meeting.

The ordinance was referred to the council’s finance committee for review before it comes back for a vote.

According to information included in the council’s meeting packet, the additional appropriation to the 2023 budget was recommended by Mayor Steve Collier. It was sponsored by councilmembers Sherron Freeman (District 3 Democrat), Lauren Russel (District 6 Republican), Tom Shevlot (District 5 Republican) and Deb Whitfield (At-Large Democrat).

The ordinance calls for spending an additional $480,000 for the Lawrence Police Dept., and about $297,000 for the Lawrence Fire Dept.

Other appropriations in the ordinance would go toward the council’s expenses related to its investigation into Collier’s actions related to the 2022 budget, and legal fees related to litigation over that investigation that the council and mayor have agreed to settle.

Supporting documents show that the fire department needs repairs completed on its training tower, along with personnel costs. The police department funding would go toward overtime and fuel costs, supplies and equipment.

Some of those expenses had been included in a previous proposal that would have paid for them through American Rescue Plan Act funds. That proposal never made it out of committee, however, and the sponsors — Freeman and Shevlot — opted to remove their sponsorship after several months of no action.

If the new ordinance is approved, funding would come from the city’s general fund.

The next Lawrence Common Council meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Sept. 5, a day later than usual because of the Labor Day holiday.