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Ways to pay St. Mary’s bill sought

There won’t be another certification of expected revenue for 2015, at least not for now.

But the Lawrence County Auditor’s Office plans on working with the county commission to find ways to pay off a $165,000 bill to St. Mary’s Medical Center for inmate medical care.

Since 2012 bills for emergency room and other care for county prisoners have gone unpaid. Recently Lawrence County Commission President Les Boggs met with a vice president of St. Mary’s and negotiated an arrangement that if the county pays the bill in full, the hospital will reduce it by $55,000.

With all the certified funds already appropriated by the commission, Boggs came to Tuesday’s budget commission to ask for a higher certification so the county could get the discount.

“We didn’t have money from the (current) certification,” Boggs told the commission. “We are laying it at your table.”

Before the county commission can spend any funds, that money must be certified by the budget commission that it is either available now or will be in the future. Without that certification, there can be no appropriations.

“We have a budget commission where we try to look at revenue as far as what may be coming along,” Lawrence County Auditor Jason Stephens said. “We have to change revenue because of factors from the revenue side, not the expense side. I feel uncomfortable to change our estimate in revenue because of an expense. I’m not saying (the expense) is not worthy.”

Stephens then suggested looking at other funds in the county budget currently with appropriations but could be used to pay the medical bill.

“I believe there are a couple of funds that could be a way to save $50,000 on the top,” Boggs said.