County looking at another 10-15 percent budget cut

Published 2:08 pm Friday, December 12, 2008

Lawrence County officeholders could be in for another 10-15 percent budget cut in the coming year as a way of making ends meet in what most expect to be another lean fiscal year.

At Thursday’s meeting, Lawrence County Commissioner Jason Stephens said officeholders may be asked to cut back again this year after a 15 percent cut last year.

“It depends on how each officeholder dealt with it in ’08,” Stephens said. “But I don’t know. I haven’t looked at each officeholder’s budget.”

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At a budget hearing earlier this week, commissioners said budget requests for the coming year were at least $2 million more than what the county will likely have to spend.

In another matter, the commission approved a three percent hike in the county’s hotel/motel tax. The county has a 3 percent motel/motel tax right now. Viviane Khounlavong-Vallance, associate executive director of the Lawrence Economic Development Corp., said doubling the tax would generate more money to market the county’s recreational, community events and tourist attractions.

“We always get questions and comments at the LEDC, suggestions on how we can market the community but we have not had the funds to do it,” she said. “This way, we can better meet those needs.”

Khounlavong-Vallance said the tax brings in between $10,000 and $30,000 annually now. Most communities that have such a tax levy a 9 percent tax. The change will take effect Jan. 1. One percent of the money will go to the townships and villages that have a motel. One percent will go to the Lawrence County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and one percent will be used to fund a grand program to help market areas of the county that do not have a hotel or motel.

The tax would be paid by transient guests or people staying in Lawrence County for less than five days. People staying longer periods, such as construction workers, would not pay the tax.

The commission also agreed to send a letter of appreciation to King’s Daughters Medical Center for the recent donation of 13 defibrillators to area fire departments and government agencies. Lawrence County Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Boster said the sheriff’s office, courthouse, MRDD workshop and several fire departments received one of the defibrillators.

“We are very, very grateful to King’s Daughters for giving these 13 devices to our agencies,” Boster said.