Commission approves tight budget; appoints safety point man

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 14, 2003

State law requires the counties and municipalities have a budget in place by the end of March of each year, well in time for the start of each new fiscal year on July 1.

The Lawrence County Commission yesterday approved its new spending plan with no fanfare and definitely no enthusiasm. The budget uses meager funds to try and accommodate all the county's needs. Some of the county's officeholders had requested more money than they got last year. Those requests for additional funding went unheeded as commissioners tried to do as much as possible with their few resources. The general fund budget is $10,526,450.30. Officeholders had requested $11,601,191.38.

And the economic hardship may not be over yet.

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"We're looking at having to tighten it up tighter," Commissioner Doug Malone said.

When asked if layoffs could be in order to help make the spending plan work, Malone and commissioner Jason Stephens didn't want to hazard a guess.

"It's hard to say," Stephens said. "A lot comes back to officeholders and how they watch their budgets. Our job as commissioners is to take all the requests - and they're all important - and, within the realm of what we have available, spread it (the money) out as best we can, to make sure all the needs are met."

Stephens said those officeholders who made cuts to their individual office budgets last year would probably fare the best under the new spending plan. It is essentially the same budget as last year.

Also yesterday, the county appointed James Ward as the coordinator for the county's Drug Free Workplace program, an effort that could save the county $40,000 on its workers compensation premiums.

Ward will also act as the county's point man with the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation. Ward is deputy director of the 911/Emergency Management Agency office. He will keep that position in addition to his new responsibilities.

The county was required by the state to have a coordinator and a drug free policy and program in place by the end of March or risk losing the option to save $40,000.