Scioto’s efforts can teach us

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 16, 2010

Lawrence County may be able to learn a few things from its neighbors in Scioto County.

Scioto County was placed in fiscal emergency in 2009 after a state audit analysis revealed the government entity had a $3.5 million deficit.

A performance audit last week revealed that Scioto County had made good strides to getting in balance but could still save more than $1 million a year by making some fundamental changes to how it operates.

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Lawrence County’s leaders should pay close attention to these recommendations — as well as revisiting the recommendations included in its own performance audit — and take a good look in the mirror.

How many of the problems in Scioto County are right here at home? How many of the recommendations for Lawrence County remain unimplemented?

Some of the key recommendations for Scioto County were:

Develop and document budgeting practices that are consistent with state law requirements

Establish formal guidelines to collect “pay for stay” fees from prisoners for an estimated annual savings of $38,000

Reduce staffing levels to increase departmental efficiency for an estimated annual savings of $570,120

Renegotiate certain benefit provisions throughout the county for an estimated annual savings of $158,600

Our county wasn’t facing the crisis that Scioto County was, in part because our county commissioners took some positive steps in recent years to ensure our financial situation didn’t get that bad.

But that doesn’t mean that more can’t be done.

The county commissioners essentially sold a key asset in its ambulance stations last year as a way to balance the budget and have a small carryover.

The financial picture won’t get much better this year as some of the key questions — such as how to fund the sheriff’s office properly — are answered.

We should be thankful we do not face the hurdles that Scioto does but we also must be proactive to ensure we never will.