Lawrence City Council Report
The City of Lawrence is home to over 47,000 residents and is classified as a 2nd class city which affords us our own local government. The city is governed by a Mayor and nine elected council members. Six members are elected by their district and three members are elected at-large which means they are elected city-wide. The City of Lawrence is also unique in that we have the largest urban park in the state, Ft. Harrison. Recently, Ft. Harrison launched the Hoosier Outdoor Experience that introduced its guests to activities available in the park such as kayaking, archery, horseback riding, trap shooting and hiking, just to name a few.
Lawrence also saw an uptick in economic development with the announcement of recent expansions of new business in addition to new businesses moving in to Lawrence. Teckniks, which manufactures specialty tools, announced an expansion to their business, which resulted in planned new hiring. Software firm, Bloomerang also announced an expansion. The Indianapolis software company says it wants to buy a new facility in Lawrence, a move that would add up to 70 jobs over the next 10 years. The company, which helps nonprofits improve fundraising and add donors, plans to buy and renovate a building at Lawrence Village at the Fort, a mixed-use complex near East 56th Street and North Post Road. Another new business announced they will be relocating to the Lawrence area. Little Raymond’s print shop will be relocating their business in Lawrence with plans to initially hire up to 50 employees with plans over the next five years to add approximately 50 additional employees.
The city also launched their new web site, www.cityoflawrence.org that provides readers useful information such as permitting processes, leadership, services offered and an FAQ tab that covers most every question our residents may have. Additionally, the city was recently awarded two significant grants for economic development. The first was a grant helps defray the cost of demolition of several buildings that are not inhabitable, and the re-paving of sections of Franklin Road. We also received a grant to cover most of the cost to begin construction of a trail-way that begins at the intersection of Fox Road and runs south on Oaklandon. We are also successful in getting all public meetings to be broadcast live on your local cable government channels. Now all residents that have cable access can watch all public meetings held in the Keller Assembly room.
Our public safety officials continue to serve the residents of Lawrence in spite of the last four years of challenging economic conditions. In spite of these challenges, our fire and police officers continue to service our city at a high level of performance. We are truly honored and grateful for their service. On that note, although tax revenues continue to fall, the council did pass a balanced budget that afforded all non-exempt public safety officers with a 3% raise for the calendar year 2014. Although the next year’s budget is lean and doesn’t afford much latitude in additional hiring of public safety personnel, it did pass by an 8-1 vote that reflects a strong vote of confidence that Lawrence is poised for good and responsible governance of the taxpayer’s money.
[Publisher’s note: Tom Shevlot, councilor at large, provides periodic updates about Lawrence government, economic development and other civic issues.]