• 46°

End to spending freeze could be weeks away

An end to the county’s funding freeze could still be weeks away, officials said Thursday.

Friday, April 06, 2001

An end to the county’s funding freeze could still be weeks away, officials said Thursday.

County commissioners continued the government office spending freeze March 15, saying they would wait on totals from the first half of tax collections.

Those totals, called a tax settlement, were not available Thursday. When they are, the county will have a better idea of its cash position, deputy county auditor Chris Kline said.

There are still boxes of tax bills to process, but even if everything is finalized in the next week the county will have to wait, Kline said.

The auditor’s office must send off the tax collection information to have it checked before receiving a final list detailing amounts for each government entity – a procedure that takes about a week, he said.

The funding freeze – which does not include payroll, utilities or emergency expenditures – began Feb. 15 because of cashflow problems. The effect of years of job loss created a smaller carryover at the beginning of the year, and tax revenues were not coming into the county’s funds at the same rate as money being spent, commissioners said.

The freeze ensures enough operating money stays in the general fund and curbs a future county funding crisis, they said.

At their Thursday regular meeting, commissioners:

– Accepted the resignation of Susan Brown, who is taking another job, and the retirement of Carol Jean Bryant, both at the CSEA.

As many as seven out of 22 Child Support Enforcement Agency employees face layoffs this month, a result of dwindling state funding for the agency, officials said last week.

Lawrence County Department of Job and Family Services director Buddy Martin, who oversees the agency, said there is not enough state and federal dollars to support the amount of staff.

The resignation and retirement will likely reduce the number of layoffs, Martin said Thursday.

– Changed next week’s meeting place. The commission will meet Thursday, April 12, at 9 a.m. at the Aid SEOEMS station.

– Received a referred to the prosecuting attorney a letter from David Pruitt requesting home confinement.

– Approved a Department of Job and Family Services request to issue an invitation to bid for purchase of gasoline and related services for medical transportation programs.