County#8217;s options leave clear choice

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 14, 2008

Lawrence County Commissioners continue to look for solutions to a difficult problem: How to balance a budget that gets worse every year.

In past years, the commissioners and officeholders as a whole have failed to make enough tangible changes and alter the business-as-usual approach. While some steps have been taken, it hasn’t been nearly enough to save a county that has continued spending more than it brings in.

Years of pushing the problems under the rug are culminating with the county weighing its options to trim the budget.

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Unfortunately, the problem is that the county has only come up with two primary solutions, one of which should have never been put on the table at all because it is a disservice to the taxpayers of Lawrence County.

The two plans that the county commissioners are giving the officeholders are to either cut overall departmental spending by 20 percent or to close the courthouse one day a week.

That’s the best plan our elected leaders can come up with? They want to close the courthouse for a day? Unacceptable.

We understand that this is just a starting point to spur discussion and ideas from the officeholders, but closing the courthouse and depriving taxpayers of the services they pay for 365 days of the year isn’t the solution.

County officeholders and the commissioners must get together now to devise a plan that would cut the budget by 20 percent to address the $1 million shortfall and keep the doors open all week long.

The commissioners need to work together as a unit, with each individual contributing their own ideas to move the county forward.

The officeholders must stop looking backwards and touting things that have been done in the past. Each and every office must find a way to trim expenses and operate more efficiently, likely a task that will be harder than anything they have ever done. Jobs will likely have to be cut or combined.

That especially goes for the county judges who can court order their budgets. Taking that approach will only hurt the county and fails to acknowledge the big picture.

Lawrence County’s government must find a way to better serve its residents and that service has to be all week long.