Prosecutor: Full funding or I can order it

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 29, 2005

"I'm at the point where I can't cut anymore."

That was the statement from Lawrence County Prosecutor J.B. Collier Jr. in asking for full funding for his office.

Collier sent the Lawrence County Commission a letter, reminding them he is expected to run out of money in his salaries account by Nov. 4 and by law he can mandate his budget by court order if necessary. On Thursday, the commission forwarded Collier's letter to the Lawrence County Budget Commission for review.

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In an effort to make ends meet this year, the Lawrence County Commission set the salaries line item for Collier's office at $425,000, approximately $130,000 short of his $558,144 request. It was one of several offices that got less money that requested.

Collier said he understands the county is short on funds, and in the past, he has cut staff instead of asking for more money. A couple of years ago he laid off two investigators and did not fill an office assistant's position when the person took another job.

But criminal indictments have increased by 150 since 1998 and Collier said he can't cut any more people and handle the increased responsibilities effectively.

"It's not like we're puffed up and saying to the commission 'by God, you're going to do this, we've got a court order,' but we told them early on that we needed this money and this is a reminder," Collier said.

"We understand the financial problems the county is facing but we have responsibility to the county and the state has certain time tables by which we must get things done or people accused of crimes are let loose."

"We sent it to the budget commission to get their thoughts on it," Commissioner Doug Malone said in response to Collier's letter.

Collier's office is one of several slated to run out of money for salaries before Dec. 31.