County faces more cutbacks

Published 10:35 am Thursday, December 11, 2008

It appears push is coming to shove when looking at the steep challenge faced by the Lawrence County Commission.

The county is projected to be about $2 million short of what officeholders have requested for the 2009 budget. The Lawrence County Commission conducted a budget hearing on Tuesday to inform those officeholders of what is to come, which is that things are about to get even tighter.

Contributing to the problem is the fact state monies and interest incomes have been slashed by some $400,000.

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“Sales taxes are up, barely, but state money to local governments is down and interest income is down,” Lawrence County Chief Deputy Auditor Chris Kline said.

Laying out the problem is a wise idea, but doesn’t make the job of balancing the budget any easier.

“We want (officeholders) to realize the state is in a budget crisis and this is having an effect on us,” Commissioner Jason Stephens said. “It dramatically affects the county budget.”

On top of the 15 percent mandated cuts by the commission last year, it appears county offices will have to do more with less again.

Getting an early jump on the budget process is a good idea because difficult decisions are ahead.

Stephens has it correct when he says the commission cannot appropriate money it does not have. So now the challenge for the county’s elected officials is to again re-evaluate the available resources and use them in the best possible way to serve the public’s needs.

And no matter how painful the process might be, that is still government’s ultimate responsibility.