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Warning signs show county must change

At the start of 2012, Lawrence County’s government was projected to be in strong financial position over the following 12 months. But the budget isn’t worth the paper it is printed on if the plan isn’t realistic or if officeholders don’t follow it.

Earlier this week the county commissioners hosted a forum to show the individual officeholders exactly where they stand right now and where each department would be at the end of the year if current spending continues unchecked.

The projections show that the county may have a deficit of more than $800,000 at the end of the year, based purely on the trend of current payroll levels.

This review is concerning and changes must be addressed now rather than later.

Although there are some variables, including the fact that the commissioners were factoring out a projected $1 million carryover that should be considered off-limits when it comes to salaries, the report shows a disturbing pattern.

The two months that the report is based on factor in only five of the 26 pay periods the county has this year.

Although there are some seasonal hires in areas like the treasurer’s office, the overall message remains legitimate and that is that the county is still on shaky financial ground. As a whole, the individual officeholders have not done enough to address the biggest expense: salaries.

The commissioners deserve credit for the fact they are keeping the focus on this now rather than waiting until the fall, which has been the common practice in past years.

The officeholders have to take responsibility for this — and the commissioners have to ensure they do — and start living within a plan that projects a realistic outcome.

Cutting expenses on paper alone will not accomplish anything and reality will catch up with our county this fall or sooner.