Cut services or OK public service plan
No matter how many times the numbers are crunched, the bottom line remains the same. Lawrence County does not have enough cash flow to absorb additional ongoing expenses such as running a much larger jail operation or paying for dozens of prisoners to be housed in other counties indefinitely.
There are really only two mathematically sound choices before the county government and the people of Lawrence County in order to resolve this financial dilemma.
Option 1- Do not increase revenue to the county. If the county does not ask voters to increase revenue or if voters elect to not pass a property tax levy this November, then the Board of County Commissioners, regardless of who they may be, will be forced to severely cut appropriations of non-state-mandated services in order to pay for housing county prisoners in other counties.
At the current spending levels, the cuts necessary would quickly eliminate county services such as EMS, and, ironically, the road deputies of the sheriff’s office.
An even worse financial option would be for Lawrence County to try to open the ORV in Franklin Furnace.
Every time accurate projections have been done on this idea, it would prove to be an absolute financial disaster to the taxpayers of Lawrence County.
Option 2- Increase revenue to the county. The county commissioners in cooperation with the other county officials involved with public safety, law enforcement, etc., could approve a plan, which could include a levy or levies being placed on the ballot this November.
This plan would have to generate enough revenue to cover the costs of building and operating a jail facility in Lawrence County.
Do the people of Lawrence County want to pay more property taxes to keep those who break the law in our county off the streets or keep their property tax bills the lowest in the state but risk the elimination of non-state-mandated county services?
Nobody really knows the answer until the people of Lawrence County actually have the opportunity to voice their opinion at the ballot box on a sensible jail solution.
Jason C. Stephens
Lawrence County Auditor