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Allocating costs to officeholders

Auditor asks that proposal be studied

It’s a question of reimbursement. How much, if any, should county offices return to the general fund for services they receive that are paid from that fund?

That was the question Lawrence County Auditor Jason Stephens brought up to the county commission at its Thursday meeting as he presented a consultant’s report on possible cost allocations.

Among the costs that could be allocated back to offices would be insurance, telephone service, courthouse security and building maintenance.

“We are looking for ways to more accurately portray the cost of a unit of government,” Stephens said. “It is possibility to consider as part of the budget process.”

Stephens brought up the issue as the commissioners are getting ready to make the budget for 2015. If the commissioners were to approve this, it would change the amount of money available for certification by the budget commission. No funds can be appropriated for use by any county office before they are certified by the budget commission.

“This can become very complicated,” he said.

Insurance, utilities and the like are considered indirect costs. Stephens offered as a example of a possible allocation: Should the county engineer’s liability insurance be paid for out the general fund or from the Motor Vehicle Gas Tax that pays for roadwork.

A court case ruled that it should come out of the general fund, but it is an indirect cost to the general fund.

“Are you requesting we adopt this?” Les Boggs, commission president asked.

“What I am requesting is to study it and is it worth the effort, as we look for ways to make the budget balanced with all the pressures coming in,” Stephens said.