TOPEKA – The Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services has reached agreements with four separate local units of government to keep SRS Service Centers open in their communities.
Under the arrangements, the local governments, cities, counties and sometimes both, agree to pay the state’s costs to keep the offices running. Expenses include rent, utilities, copy machine rentals and other business costs.
The four offices that will remain open are McPherson, Pratt Lawrence, and Ft. Scott. The other five offices, Coffeyville, Garnett, Lyndon, Marysville and Wellington, will close by September 30.
The agency is also in the process of merging six administrative regions into four. This plan balances population, caseloads and staffing across the regions while streamlining management at the same time.
The agency announced in early July that nine offices were slated for closure in response to a mandate set by the Kansas Legislature to cut $42 million in expenses, including $1 million in administrative costs. In addition to office reorganization, the agency has also cut other expenses across the board, such as cell phone costs and state-funded water coolers.
“Unlike previous administrations, we were more than willing to meet with local governments to work out deals to keep SRS offices open. They keep their local office and SRS meets its budget cutting criteria. Everyone wins,” said SRS Secretary Rob Siedlecki.
From 2003-2010, 64 local SRS offices were shut down without giving local communities the option keep their service centers open.
All of the agreements to keep the offices open are valid for two years. The agreements are void if the local governments do not provide the money, or if the legislature decides to appropriate funding for those offices at any point during that two-year time frame.
Funding agreements between state government and local government are not unusual. Until the late 1970s, when there was an SRS office in every county, local governments paid the costs of keeping the facilities in operation. The new agreements are similar also to the arrangement the state judicial system has with local governments for county courthouses.