County is on right track with cuts

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 3, 2008

Lawrence County Commissioners deserve praise for finally “walking the walk” when it comes to trimming the budget of a county general fund that has been over-spending for years.

Now it is up to commissioners and individual office holders to continue to find ways to change the culture of overspending within county government and consolidate or eliminate services.

The county leaders implemented a 15 percent cut to each department that is funded from the general fund, which includes the treasurer’s office, the auditor, the clerk of courts and others. The sheriff’s office will also feel the pinch though it won’t be with road deputies.

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It is now important for the county office holders to live within their budgets and make the needed cuts. Each department must be accountable for making the needed changes and still find ways to serve the public.

Changing years of spending more than the county brings in won’t be easy but the reality is that this is the only the first step. More changes will likely be needed for the county to fully rebound from a struggling economy and an ever-increasing expense budget.

Hopefully, this will only be the first step of a variety of changes that will change the culture within the county government, one that has for far to long been one of entitlement for its employees and living beyond its means.

The commissioners must now look at every other aspect of the county including who receives insurance and at what cost, how many hours employees work and what do they get paid for it, and whether or not certain services can be eliminated or consolidated.

We have long advocated that dispatching services at the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office and the county’s 911 center are redundant and must be combined. That hasn’t changed and this should be addressed now.

Each year, elected officials pay a lot of attention to this problem in order to get elected but nothing ever seems to happen. The recent forming of an analysis committee is a good start and hopefully changes will come in the near future that could serve the entire county better.

Now is time for a top-to-bottom look at every facet of how the county operates. Who gets insurance and why? Are the best people hired or does nepotism create job positions that may not be needed? Are changes made when they are needed or are they ignored because they are not politically popular?

County commissioners deserve praise for what they have done but that must also come with the realization this is only the first step.