Never too early to look ahead

Published 9:39 am Friday, January 18, 2013

Less than one month into the new year and the Lawrence County Commissioners are already thinking ahead to the 2014 budget. And this is a very good thing.

Commissioner Bill Pratt took over as president of the board Monday and, in light of recent controversy with nearly 25 percent budget cuts across the board on salaries, Pratt has vowed that budget hearings will come early this year.

This is certainly encouraging and shows the commissioners may have learned from mistakes this past year when very little discussion and communication with officeholders occurred.

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This lack of dialogue certainly was a leading factor in the more than two weeks of controversy. It began when sheriff Jeff Lawless was essentially forced to lay off 22 employees. The issue hit a low point with the 911 center being once again separated from the Sheriff’s office. But the whole scenario edged close to a resolution Thursday when 911 was reconsolidated and the sheriff was given a budget that will be tight yet functional.

The county will have an much of this year to start preparing for these next budget hearings. And although formal talks won’t begin for months, commissioners shouldn’t waste any time digging into each and every component of the county’s budget.

Some citizens see these types of budget debates as just political theater that has no actual bearing on the lives of Lawrence County.

That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Lawrence County’s government is responsible for many services and certainly providing an adequate 911 center, sheriff’s office, ambulance service and solid county roads have to be at the top of the list.

So, many taxpayers may have been disappointed with recent decisions but should feel better knowing that future problems shouldn’t be tied to lack of communication.