Lawrence County#8217;s budget is running short

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The county’s bleak financial picture got a bit darker Thursday.

Lawrence County Commissioners said it appears at this point, the county’s general fund is running $472,034 short of revenues.

According to county figures, the prosecutor’s office, sheriff’s office and board of elections together account for $328,234 amount of that amount. Worker’s compensation, insurance and indigent defense — paying court-appointed attorneys to represent those accused of crimes— make up most of the rest of the shortfall.

Email newsletter signup

Where to find enough green stuff to patch the county’s financial hole is a good question. Solutions are few and far between and none of them perfect. Carryover money from last year’s budget has already been used. However, the $472,034 figure does not include the court system, which does have some monies stashed away that do not come from the county general fund.

“They (court officials) are working with us,” Stephens said.

Commissioner Doug Malone pointed out that second-half year tax collections have not yet been certified. In the past, second-half collections have yielded more money than was anticipated and if it holds true this year, this could help alleviate some but not all of the county’s budget concerns.

Budget issues were emphasized when Bret Looney, director of the Dennis J. Boll Group and Shelter Home, asked the commissioners to approve a funds transfers that will at least temporarily help alleviate his agency’s budget problems. Looney said his problem began in January when commissioners appropriated each county office with enough money to fund salaries but nothing else — supplies, for instance.

“We’ve been able to operate until the current month out of transfers we made last year but we’re in a situation now to where we have no money. We do have out-of-county revenues we can make transfers out of. I’m asking for direction,” Looney said.

But he added even this revenue stream is complicated. The group home gets this out-of-county money when juveniles from of other counties are

housed at the facility in Ironton, which is very old and in need of repairs if not outright replacement. If the Ohio Department of Youth Services does not sign a licensing agreement with the group home, there won’t be any more out-of-county transfers. Looney said after the meeting that the state has funded some renovations to the 100-lus-year-old building and he hopes these upgrades are enough to keep state officials happy.

The Dennis J. Boll Group and Shelter Home is $5,000 short. Looney said money can be transferred from the out-of-county revenues.