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Still no budget

Commissioners waiting until next meeting for possible consideration

Getting a 2016 budget for Lawrence County will take at least another week.

Although passing the general fund budget was not on the agenda for the Thursday commission meeting, Lawrence County Commissioner Bill Pratt asked if they could meet in executive session to review budget proposals and then pass one.

However, commissioner Freddie Hayes Jr. said he would prefer to wait until next week since commission president Les Boggs was not at the meeting because of illness.

The commission is expected to pass a record $17 million budget following certification last year of $17,088,560 compared to the 2015 certification of $15,653,421.

“I think it is imperative that we do what is our primary job and that is pass a budget,” Pratt had said earlier this week.

Pratt has drawn up a proposal that includes $15,000 for equipment for road patrol deputies, $25,000 for capital improvements; 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. That budget also has adjustments for increases in salaries PERS and insurance.

“It might be we need to make some corrections to pass one with a unanimous vote,” Pratt said. “I would be willing to make some changes.”

The commission passed a temporary two-month budget in December. At that meeting Boggs requested information from the auditor’s office on what are the revenue streams for all aspects of the general fund.

In an interview on Wednesday Boggs said he has not received those figures.

“We put that information on our website every month,” Lawrence County Auditor Jason Stephens said. “Hopefully the commissioners will be able to agree on a general fund budget. There are line items in the temporary budget that are insufficient to pay several bills including possibly some payroll line items. Some folks won’t get paid if enough isn’t appropriated and that is unfortunate.”

The commissioners did pass the special funds budget on Thursday. However, Stephens said there are some aspects of the special funds budget like the EMS and 911 that are dependent on what is in the general fund.

“I just don’t understand why there is no budget,” Stephens said.

The commission heard from the sheriff that work continues on repairing one of the three hinges on a cellblock at the jail.

“It is from wear and tear on the facility,” Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless said. “We have the material. We need to get a welder. That cellblock is of no use to us until we get the hinge fix.”

That cellblock holds eight inmates.

The commissioners also received and filed a letter from director of job and family services Terry Porter concerning the change in the classification of the DJFS assistant director Christopher Collins.

At the commission’s first meeting of the new year on Jan. 11, county prosecuting attorney Brigham Anderson gave his opinion that Collins should be an unclassified employee. When Porter held the No. 2 spot, the post was defined as classified. The discussion arose when Collins, who has filed to run for Boggs’ seat in the Republican primary, said he was going to take a two-month unpaid leave to campaign.

Porter’s letter asked for a resolution that addresses the change and when the new classification is to take place.

“In regards to the salary and benefits for this unclassified position, we require a resolution defining these items as soon as possible to proceed with payroll processing,” the letter states. “Also, do the current work rules and benefits supported by the commissioners’ resolution dated Dec. 8, 2014 apply to this position as they do the director’s position. If they do not, we will require a copy of the work rules that do apply.”

After the meeting Pratt said he would prefer to address Porter’s concerns after Collins’ returns from his leave of absence.

In other actions the commissioners:

• Approved the demolition agreement for Joe and Jerri Stallo in Chesapeake;

• Extended the deadline for dog tag sales to March 1.