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Commission to take second look at Lawless budget

Lawrence County Commissioners have agreed to review the 2015 budget for the county sheriff’s office to see if additional funding can be appropriated.

That action followed pleas, verbally and in writing, from Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless at Thursday’s commission meeting.

“I ask you to take another look,” Lawless said to the commission.

According to the sheriff, his budget was increased only by $5,000, but he faces higher costs of at least $70,000 from required pay raises to go into effect this year.

“That is a little bit short, if current trends continue,” he said.

On top of that can be added overtime expense when a crisis situation arises such as the recent incident at Ohio University Southern-Ironton, where a gunman was erroneously reported roaming the halls.

Lawless also made his case in a three-page letter he presented to the commission.

“The budget provided to me is not adequate to get me through the entire year and it does not allow me to move the sheriff’s office forward and certainly does not allow me to better protect the citizens,” the letter states. “With our staffing levels the way they are, I can only afford to put an average of two deputies out patrolling this entire county per shift. … Over the years I have been very conservative with the taxpayers’ money that has been provided to me. I can remember previous sheriffs asking for hundreds of thousands of dollars to get them through the year.”

Lawless said he has reached out to other agencies to get supplies for his office and the jail.

“We are sitting in chairs and at desks that were being thrown away from offices in the courthouse,” the letter states. “I think we have shown that we have done our part to assist the county’s financial woes but the well has run dry as hardly any agencies have any more to provide to me.”

Commission president Les Boggs said the commissioners would take another look at Lawless’s budget at their work session this Tuesday.