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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

Raises for County Employees of 3 Percent Dies in a 3-3 Vote Tuesday Night

LAWRENCE COUNTY - SEPTEMBER 20, 2022 - The Lawrence County Council voted 3-3 for a 3 percent raise across the board for county employees and elected leaders.

Lawrence County Council budget run through Tuesday night

However, the motion died due to a tie vote with Julie Heweston, Julie Chase and Jeff Lynton voting in favor of the raise, and Rick Butterfield, Scott Smith and Mike Wright voting against the raise.

The proposed budget incorporated a 0 percent, 3 percent and 5 percent suggestion for the 2023 Budget cycle.

In the 2022 budget year, the elected leaders received the largest pay raise of almost 17 percent. Most county employees received an 8 percent pay increase. The county commissioners allowed the county to absorb over a 11.7 percent increase in health insurance premiums in 2022. The county employees also received, incremental pay increases.

It should be noted that in 2020 and 2021 county employees and county elected officials did not receive any pay raises.

Lawrence County Council member Jeff Lyton make motions for 3 percent raise across the board for raises for both county employees and elected leaders. ( vote 2 minutes in video)

The Lawrence County Council in their budget run through of for 2023 made approximately $716,777 worth of cuts. This was not the $ 1 Million in cuts suggested by the council in earlier budget discussions.

Lawrence County previously discussed and considered include the following prior to Tuesday nights meeting:

  • 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)

Several departments made cuts which included the Sheriff's Department, Public Defenders Office and the Lawrence County Extension Office.

" There was plenty of community support for the Purdue Extension to keep a third full-time educator," said Amy Redman who will sit on the county council next year. Over the last, two years, the county council has forced Lesile Lodmell to fund half of the third educator on her own. Within a short space of time, both in 2022 and 2023 the Lawrence County Extension had to request donations; but has been able to fund those positions through generosity of the local community.

The Purdue Extension programing can be seen in schools, community outreach programs, and in cooperation with other agencies throughout Lawrnce County.

In addition, reduced her clerical staff to part-time status to help make cuts to her agency.

The Lawrence County Preservation Fund of $43,000 was cut from the 2023 budget year.

Despite several meetings throughout the budget process the county has not reached its goal of reducing expenditures for the county. However, this budget should keep in line the 15 percent in reserves should the county face other financial emergency in 2023.

The Rainy-Day fund for the county is estimated around $2.9 Million in cash reserves.

Lawrence County tax levies in some departments are also excessive which the county council will be addressing those issues at a later time.

The budget is not expected to take place until October at the final adoption for 2023.

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