County leaders to stay busy working on budget

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The Lawrence County Commission last week approved a temporary budget to keep the government operating as county leaders get down to business in the coming weeks on a new, permanent budget.

County Commissioner Jason Stephens said he and fellow commissioners will be looking to see how much money will be carried over from the 2004 budget before finalizing a spending plan for 2005.

Getting a final measure of the carryover is one of several factors that play a large part in the development of a budget. Another factor is payroll. The county has an extra payroll that will fall on Dec. 31, taking a chunk out of whatever money is left over from 2004.

Email newsletter signup

"With the extra payroll and with overtime and everything else, the holidays, we had to know what things would be like," Stephens said.

Still a third factor is health insurance for county employees. Commissioners approved a new health insurance contract earlier this month also - a plan that will boost expenses by 5 percent over last year's agreement. In previous years, larger increases in health care costs have created concerns for county officials who must present a balanced, permanent budget to the state by March 31.

County Commissioners sent a request to other county officeholders earlier this month, asking them to refrain from spending any more money than is absolutely necessary these last few weeks of the year.

The 2004 edition of the Lawrence County general fund spending plan differed little from the 2003 version.

Last year's

$10, 527,480 budget did include a $908,910 carryover. However, it also included a 15-percent across-the-board cut in allowances for supplies and equipment to make ends meet.

Also last week, the commissioners amended an existing agreement between the county and E. L. Robinson to cover phase 2 of the County Road 37 water line extension.

David Michael, director of community development for the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action organization, said the $3,000 second phase of the water service project will cover design, permits and bidding to extend water lines

"How long before you start laying pipes?" Commissioner George Patterson asked Michael.

"We're hoping to start in the spring. We will be laying about 5,800 feet, so it won't take a great amount of time," Michael said.

The first phase of the project will extend 11,000 feet of water lines to

unserved households in the Sand Road area. Michael said both phase 1 and 2 will be bid together.