Every option worth analysis

Published 10:00 am Friday, November 27, 2009

Arguably getting both too much credit and too much blame for how local government operates, the Lawrence County Commissioners have a tough job to do even in the best of times.

And recent years have been anything but the best of times.

County governments across Ohio and the entire nation are facing massive financial challenges that are driven by a variety of factors including a sluggish economy that has taken a toll on tax revenues, cuts in state and federal funding, unfunded mandates, rising costs and years of management that did little to make enough proactive changes.

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Lawrence County is dealing with each of these hurdles. So that means the county commissioners take a significant amount of criticism, some justifiable and some not.

But a recent round of public fire regarding potential changes to the county’s emergency medical services is unjustified.

As the county begins looking ahead to next year’s budget the commissioners have requested proposals from SEOEMS that would include the current staffing as well as one that looks at reductions. The commissioners also discussed the idea of an EMS levy that would actually allow SEOEMS to grow.

In light of the recent move to essentially mortgage the five stations it already owns and the fact that public perception is the county doesn’t use its money wisely, there has been a significant amount of negative feedback about these ideas.

But that last part is the key that taxpayers have to remember: These are just ideas, options that can be analyzed and discussed publicly.

That is exactly what our commissioners should be doing — gathering as much information as possible to let the public know all options.

We hope they continue this line of thinking by also putting together clear plans that show what happens if they do nothing, what a law enforcement levy would do for our county, what alternatives to SEOEMS exist and what services would have to be sacrificed if voters wanted to keep SEOEMS and the LCSO operating as is or stronger.

We should never criticize our elected leaders for weighing every option but certainly should do so when they do not.