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Center getting boost

Two days after the county got a general fund windfall through an increase in carryover, the Lawrence County Commissioners have appropriated approximately 36 percent of it to help out the budget of the Lawrence County Juvenile Center.

A Jan. 9 letter from center director Brett Looney to the commission asked for additional money for its 2014 appropriation that is $124,000 short over last year’s expenditures.

In a motion made by Commissioner Bill Pratt at its Thursday meeting, the commission approved allocating $35,000 of the additional $51,254 in carryover in the A00 general fund.

“Last year we appropriated $746,000 total and only $700,000 for this year’s budget,” Pratt said. “When we got that additional certification, I thought it was the best use for it. It is a 24/7 agency like the sheriff’s and the EMS. That will help with the gap.”

In 2013 the center spent approximately $800,000 to serve an adolescent population of up to 25 at a time from the ages of 12 to 18 years old. The youth are facing violations of the Ohio Revised Code that can range from first-degree felonies to minor misdemeanors. Average length of stay for a juvenile is 30 days.

“We appreciate the commission continuing to keep us a viable option,” Looney said. “There is not many of these programs left in the state, probably because of the cost. It is a real statement for the county to see us as a necessary service.”

On Tuesday the budget commission certified a total of $97,305 in additional carryover to the three components of the general fund. The increase came because the budget commission had underestimated the carryover in October. However when the auditor’s office closed the books in December, the actual figures were higher.

Also at the meeting Commission President Les Boggs asked County Treasurer Stephen Burcham if his request to increase the general fund that pays for the sheriff’s road deputies, 911 dispatching, EMS and EMA by $115,000 had been discussed at the Tuesday meeting.

Boggs said he had originally asked County Auditor Jason Stephens in a commission meeting to increase that certification. However Stephens said the budget commission had not received a formal request.

At the commission meeting Boggs said he had sent Stephens a letter with that request and asked Burcham if the topic had been discussed by the budget commission.

“There was no indication by the chair that the letter had been received and no action was taken,” Burcham said. “There was very little discussion and no support for a second.”

Boggs has pushed on increasing the half-percent fund to enable the commission to increase the county’s supplement of the Lawrence County EMS. His argument is that since it is one half percent of the one percent sales tax, it should be 50 percent of what was certified in the one percent fund.

“It appears the amount is $115,000 less than the 50 percent of the 1 percent sales tax,” Boggs’ letter of Jan. 10 states.

Stephens’ position is that a specified amount of carryover is needed to take care of an extra pay period next year.

“My position is the same as it was previously,” Stephens said. “We have 27 pay periods in 2015 (instead of the usual 26 periods). Employees have to be paid every two weeks and every 11 years that happens. The (current) carryover is the second largest we have had in the last 15 years or longer. We are working with the other officeholders to make the county operations run smoothly. In order to due that there has to be some money held back for the next 13 months. Sales tax is very volatile.

“I feel like we have considered it. The letter was sent to me directly. The commission asked for one budget certification. We studied it thoroughly. I feel like we gave them what they asked for. They asked for another $115,000 in certification. Through the carryover there is another $100,000.”

In other action the commission:

• Received information that the 2014 workers comp premium will be $332,506 or 19 percent decrease from 2013;

• Approved right of way permits for Aqua Ohio and Jeffrey Maynard;

• Approved demolition agreements for Advantage Bank and John England;

• Approved dog warden report for Dec. 21 where one dog was destroyed, 23 were adopted or went to rescue and none were redeemed by owners;

• Approved dog warden report for Dec. 28 were none were destroyed, 22 were adopted or went to rescue and one was redeemed by owner;

• Approved dog warden report for Jan. 11 where none were destroyed, 56 were adopted or went to rescue and two were redeemed by their owner.