• Bill Raines

Overspending of $2 Million a Year Created Challenges to 2023 Budget Process

LAWRENCE COUNTY - SEPTEMBER 2, 2022 - According to the numbers over spending by $2 Million in the general fund has occurred over the last four years. This has created a dilemma for this year's budget process for Lawrence County Council.


Lawrence County Council Work Session held on Wednesday seeks to cut out $1 Million with a deficit of $667,702. Over the last four years the county has used $2 Million with a total of $8 Million dollars in deficit spending, in the reserve funds in the general fund.


In the work session on Wednesday, council members went through the budget line items for each department. Only a few of the cuts here and there to each budget only made a small impact to carve out $1 Million.


The budget process will not be finalized until October, with council members encouraging a hiring freeze to help " Stop the Bleed".


Last year, every elected official received almost $10,000 pay increases, with some county employees receiving just over an 8 percent pay increase, with pay increments added to tenure county employees in the 2022 Budget adoption.


This year, Lawrence County Commissioners stated they will not seek a pay increase.


Pay Increases for County Elected Leaders:


  • Lawrence County Clerk - Salary 2020 - $43,444 / 2022- $52,000 / Proposed 2023 $54,648 Total pay increase since 2020 is $11,204


  • Lawrence County Auditor - Salary 2020 - $44,530 /2022 - $53,625 /Proposed 2023 $56,307 - County auditor also receives compensation as Secretary for both the county commissioners and county council


  • Lawrence County Recorder - Salary 2020 - $43,200 - / Salary 2020 - $49,817 / Proposed 2023 - $52,308 Total pay increase since 2020 - $9,108


  • Lawrence County Sheriff - Salary has not changed since 2020 at $105,000 / Proposed budget increase 2023 $118,000 - The proposed budget will have an increase of $13,000 since 2020


  • Lawrence County Surveyor - Salary 2020 - $31,580 / Salary 2022 - $34,107 / Proposed 2023 - $34,107 - Pay increase since 2020 - 2020 $2,527


  • Coroner Salary - Salary 2020 - $19,706 - / Salary 2022 - $20,899 - Proposed 2023 - $21,934 - Total pay increase since 2020 - $2,228 Note: Chief Deputy pay increase with proposed 2023 will be a $5,856 increase


  • Prosecutor - The Prosecutor salary is set by state statue


  • Lawrence County Judges - The Judges salary is set by state statue


  • Lawrence County Assessor - Salary 2020 - $44,530 / salary 2022 - $52,251/ Proposed 2023 - $54,864 - Total pay increase since 2020 - $10,334


  • Lawrence County Commissioners - Divide the numbers by three - 2020 -$66,117/ 2022 - $70,085 - The commissioners did not seek a pay raise this year. Total pay increase since 2020 - $3,968 divide this number by 3


  • Lawrence County Council - Divide the numbers by seven - Salary 2020 - $49,343 / Salary 2022 - $56,048 - Total pay increase since 2020 - $9,508 divide this number by 7

Last year's county council voted 6-1 with Rick Butterfield casting the only "No" vote on the proposed salary increases for elected leaders.


During last year's budget hearings, Lawrence County Council member Janie "Craig" Chenault stated that many of the elected leaders use their own money to get elected to their position and deserve a pay increase which lacks in other counties similar to Lawrence County.


Both the Lawrence County President Scott Smith and Lawrence County Auditor told other county council members that there was plenty money to cover the increase in pay both for the elected leaders as well as pay increases for county employees and placing tenure employees on incremental pay.


The adopted general fund budget for 2022 was $16,1000, 294 with the proposed General Fund budget at $17,445,873. The budget for 2020 was $14,5504,436 this was an increase of $3,907,770 since 2020.


Lawrence County Zephyr will monitor the budget process for the Lawrence County 2023 budget.


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