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Commission may pass largest budget to date

A record $17 million budget for 2016 is being considered by the Lawrence County Commissioners.

That follows a certification on Monday by the county budget commission of general fund money of $17,088,560, compared to the 2015 certification of $15,653,421.

“The carryover was up significantly and there is $350,000 in money we have been saving for the 27th payroll that will occur in 2016,” chief deputy auditor Chris Kline said.

That is because 26 pay periods make up 364 days a year. Adding up the 365th day turns into an entire pay period after so many years.

Carryover will be $2,106,000 compared with 2015’s at $1,829,145.

Among the items in the new budget is a significant increase in the money spent to house prisoners out of county, primarily Morrow County, to keep the census at the county jail down to a level acceptable to the state. The sheriff began reducing the census this summer following a jail inspection.

For 2015 the commission budgeted $275,000 to pay those housing bills of which $263,663 has been spent so far.

“We have adjusted for salary increases, PERS and insurance increases,” commissioner Bill Pratt said. “There is $15,000 for equipment for road patrol deputies. The sheriff can use that to buy vests for road patrol.”

Last week Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless went to the commission to ask for additional equipment, including bullet proof vests, rubber bullets and ballistic shields. Lawless had asked for the upgrades previously, but renewed his request following the massacre in San Bernardino, Calif.

There is also $25,000 for capital improvements at the courthouse and $78,000 to make the first of five payments to pay back the $350,000 that a state audit said the department of job and family services misspent.

Commission president Les Boggs had asked the state if the county could make interest-free payments.

There is also $10,000 set aside to pay for a humane officer, if the county is able to fill that position.

“We will have it if someone wants to try to do it for that,” Pratt said.

Revenue sources were either up slightly or remained flat.

Sales tax was $7.8 million up about $400,0000; local government funds remained at $540,000 and property tax at $2,332,000 is up about $7,000.

The commission is expected to review and pass a budget next week.

“We have to have everything completed no later than Dec. 23, including the entry of the budget into our computer system, so that we can begin the first payroll of 2016, which is dated Jan. 1, 2016,” Kline said.