County considers temporary budget

Published 11:36 am Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Lawrence County officeholders are likely to start the New Year with a new but temporary budget and a 12 percent cut in appropriations.

The Lawrence County Commission began work on a new spending plan at its Tuesday meeting. They agreed to hold off on enacting a permanent budget until after Jan. 1 to see exactly how much of a carryover they will have to bring from 2008 into 2009. Commissioners will likely enact a one-month budget at this week’s Thursday regular meeting.

“Basically its enough to pay the first payroll of the year and other operational expenses,” Commissioner Jason Stephens said. “We would like to have gotten it done by the end of the year but the reality is, we don’t know what the carryover is.”

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He estimated that the carryover is likely to be between $75,000 and $200,000.

One bright note: the budget request from the prosecutor’s office apparently had an error that will work in the county’s favor. In the past, commissioners put employees’ health insurance and other benefits into one single line item for all county employees.

In the coming year, each officeholder will begin paying such benefits out of their own budget and were supposed to include enough money for these expenditures in their 2009 requests. The prosecutor’s office had allotments for benefits listed two different times. This means the need for the more than $370,000 additional monies requested is actually going to be much smaller.

Stephens said waiting until the first of the year to enact a new budget is also accommodate the changing of the guard.

Commissioner Tanner Heaberlin will leave office at the end of the year and Les Boggs will join it. Stephens said this will allow Boggs to have input on finances for the coming year.