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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

Lawrence County Council Works to Reduce Proposed Budget by $1 Million

LAWRENCE COUNTY - AUGUST 31, 2022 - The Lawrence County Council used a work session on Wednesday morning to reduce the proposed of the general fund of $17,445,873.

The public could only observe the meeting. Both Lawrence County Zephyr and Times Mail attended the work session.

The county council started at 10:00 a.m. and ended the work session at just about 2:30 p.m.

The final adoption of the 2023 Budget is not voted on until October 8th.

This will allow enough time for department holders, and elected officials to make necessary cuts to their budgets.

No votes or action was taken Wednesday, budget items were only discussed on what actions might be taken to address budget concerns from the 2023 budget and beyond to keep spending under control.

(Lawrence County Council Work Session Wednesday morning)

This morning, Lawrence County Auditor Jessica Staggs, told the Lawrence County Council members that the county has overspent estimated revenue shares since 2019.

According to Staggs the 2022 General Fund Adopted Budget was $16,100,294 and this year's proposed budget is $17,445,873. The General Fund Revenue estimates for 2023 is $16,778,171 leaving a deficit of $667,702.

If the proposed budget would remain for 2023, there is a total of $3,110,056 in the General Fund at the end of this year's budget cycle.

(Lawrence County Auditor Jessica Staggs explains the projected revenue for 2023)

" As chief financial officer, I would recommend making cuts that will get you close or below your anticipated revenues for 2023. I would additionally like to add that these revenue figures are estimates, not exact figures. The total ending balance would reflect the county spending every dollar of the 2022 budget, as well as only accounting for 85 % of the expected property tax revenues based off the 2021 pay 2022 assessed values," said Staggs.

It is recommended the Lawrence County Council have a reserve of 15 percent of the total budget. If the Lawrence County Council take 15 percent of $17,445,873, the recommended ending balance would be at 18 percent.

File photo:Chief Public Defender reduced his proposed 2023 budget to address revenue concerns in 2023

Tim Sledd, Lawrence County Public Defender's Office budget was proposed at $1.4 Million and has worked with the county council to reduce his budget to $974,185. Over the last two years, the public defender's budgets have been ballooning due to the high turnover of public defenders, and number of CHNS cases.

The Indiana Public Defender's Commission will reimburse the public defender's expenditures by 40 percent next year, with an expected $584,511 savings to the county taxpayers.

Lawrence County Council members must decide the amount of pay increases for the county employees, who received an 8 percent pay increase last year, with most elected officials getting an approximate $10,000 pay increase in 2022 budget year.

In addition, some county employees were given an increment pay raises which is also impacting the budget for this year.

Lawrence County discussed and considered include the following:

  • Hiring freeze of county employees

  • What kind of pay increase for county employees is it a 3 percent or 5 percent pay increase or no pay increase at all.

  • What kind of pay increase for elected officials? The Lawernce County Commissioners did not include a pay increase in their budget for 2023.

  • Where can the county council cut expenses and not affect county operations?

  • Lawrence County Council even though hears the budget requests for the Lawrence County Solid Waste District; cannot really do anything with their budget. The budget proposed for the Lawrence County Solid Waste District is proposed at $3.3 Million.

  • Lawrence County Council has learned that the Community Corrections no longer mows the courthouse lawn which is done by a landscaping company.

  • Department heads, and elected leaders need to prioritize what they can live without.

  • Salary paid for Mitchell Community Schools Resource officer county portion is $4,400 a quarter. (Advisory only)

The budget final run through will be conducted on September 20, 2022, and the budget adopted on October 8th, 2022.

The Lawrence County Zephyr will continue to monitor developments in the 2023 Budget Cycle.

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