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County eyeing possible shortfall

Budget proposals for Lawrence County government offices were reviewed yesterday as elected officials took a look at what could happen financially in 2002.

Wednesday, February 06, 2002

Budget proposals for Lawrence County government offices were reviewed yesterday as elected officials took a look at what could happen financially in 2002.

County commission president Jason Stephens said an informal meeting was held yesterday between himself and other elected officials. The meeting, Stephens said, was conducted in order to discuss the proposed 2002 budget with officeholders and to discuss how the budget could affect the different county offices.

"Nothing was decided," Stephens said about the meeting, which was held in executive session.

Stephens added that a permanent budget hasn’t been put into effect for the county. Stephens said the meeting was held behind closed doors "out of fairness to office holders and employees." He said since a final budget isn’t in place, the meeting gave elected officials the chance to speculate on what could happen to the budget in 2002.

Stephens said elected officials are trying to work out a way to keep county services in place, despite a shortfall in the county’s income. Stephens said the commission has laid off employees in the fall and has taken other measures to cut expenses, such as increasing the employees’ share of health insurance, cutting equipment and supply budgets and reducing utility costs.

"We’re doing the best we can with what we’ve got," Stephens said.

He added that it would difficult to discuss the number of job cuts that could come about if the budget is put in place.

"It’s not fair to speculate on what officeholders will do when their appropriations are handed down," Stephens said.

As of now, the county is working on a temporary budget that will expire at the end of March. Stephens said the county is looking at about a $500,000 shortfall in needed money if elected officials receive the same funding levels has last year.

"When the money isn’t there, the money isn’t there," Stephens said.