Will PO get approval?

Published 1:11 pm Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Sheriff to see if any funds there for jail move


Sometime today Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless should get official word if there is any money set aside for moving the county jail to the ORV facility in Franklin Furnace.

On Tuesday Lawless sent over a purchase order to the county commission office for $20,648 to buy blankets, sheets and mattresses for the move. That order must be then forwarded to the county auditor’s office.

“I am waiting to see if it is approved,” Lawless said.

Before any officeholder can make a purchase, a purchase order must be approved by the auditor’s office.

“The purchase order certifies the fact the funds are there to make the purchase,” chief deputy auditor Chris Kline said. “The purchase order sets aside that money. We check to see if the money is in the line item. If not, it is returned to the officeholder that there is not enough appropriation to cover the purchase.”

At their regular Thursday meeting, the commissioners were asked by Lawless if he could start making purchases to make the jail move.

Commission president Les Boggs said there was $500,000 set aside in an account and for the sheriff to try to make a purchase on that account to see if there is money actually there.

Last year the budget commission, which must certify all funds before they can be spent by the county commission, took $500,000 from the carryover so the commission could use it for the jail move. That was done in a 2-1 vote with the dissenting vote by the county auditor, who said the budget commission did not have that authority.

However, it is not the budget commission’s role to allocate how money is to be spent, just to guarantee that it is or will be there for an appropriation.

“If you want to know if the $500,000 is there, you will have to ask the budget commission who voted to put the $500,000 there,” Boggs said in a Tuesday interview.

Moving the county jail to the ORV was the state’s answer to the increasing overcrowding at the Lawrence facility. Recently the census has been in the 90s daily, on top of sending inmates out of the county, for a facility the state said should only house 27.

On Tuesday there were 80 inmates in the Fifth Street jail with an additional 16 in jails in Morrow and Scioto counties.

However, Lawless has continually said he cannot make the move to Franklin Furnace without funds for staffing, minor structural changes to the building including adding booking and visitors areas; and operations.