County officeholders told to tighten belt

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Be a little tighter this holiday season.

That was the message to Lawrence County officeholders Thursday from the Lawrence County Commission.

The commission agreed to send a letter to officeholders, asking them to refrain from spending any more money than is absolutely necessary for the next few weeks, to keep the county on an even financial keel.

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Commissioners said the last few months of the year are becoming expensive ones: December has three pay periods and the county has had big bills from the year's two elections. Commissioner Jason Stephens estimated those additional expenses cost the county approximately a half-million dollars. The county gets sales tax monies on or around the 20th of each month. December's final payroll will fall on the 31st.

Until new monies come in, county officials are watching the budget.

"It's not so much a matter of appropriations as it is cash flow," Commissioner Jason Stephens said. "We don't get property taxes until spring. … It seems like we get into this every January."

In addition to closing out the old year in sound financial shape, commissioners are also looking for ways to make the 2005 budget leaner and meaner and yet more effective.

"What do you think about a quarterly budget this year?" Commissioner George Patterson asked the two other commissioners. "I think we have to take a look at it. Some areas you don't have to worry about. But it's better to be prudent right up front. If we make a quarterly budget you have to live within the quarter."