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OK for budget expected by early December

Sheriff not getting requested funds for county jail move

Few changes are expected in next year’s financial picture for the county as the commission works on the 2015 budget, according to Commissioner Bill Pratt.

“We worked on it some yesterday,” Pratt said on Wednesday. “It is not going to be a bad budget.”

Among the changes is increasing the Lawrence County EMS funding by approximately $200,000.

“We were able to increase the EMS back up to a reasonable level to $950,000,” Pratt said. “They had to use (some) carryover. We were able to give them a little bit of an increase.”

Another officeholder to get more funds is expected to be Sheriff Jeff Lawless, who is currently trying to come up with the money to move the county jail to a facility in Scioto County that the state has offered.

For some time the county jail has come under fire for failure to meet state standards. About a year ago, the state offered the county a section of the now closed Ohio River Valley Juvenile Correctional Facility for its jail.

A basic review of salaries and other expenses by the auditor’s office showed that at least an additional $1.3 million would be needed to make the move.

“There’s not much, maybe $150,000 to $200,000 (more) for Jeff (Lawless),” Pratt said. “He will have to make a decision whether he wants to make that move with limited resources.”

Right now the timetable is to pass the major section of the general fund on Dec. 4 and the rest of the budget on Dec. 11. That would give the commission until Dec. 18 to make any changes.

“We have to have everything finalized by the 18th,” Pratt said “The auditor’s office has to have it in place because of the way the holidays fall.”