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LawCo officials release budget

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Lawrence County Commission has proposed a $4.3 million budget for 2012. The fiscal road map is a $100,000 increase over the 2011 budget and nearly $400,000 above what was actually spent last year.

Budget requests to the commission ran $1 million more than the approved 2011 budget. Commissioners are proposing reducing the requests by 17 percent.

A public hearing on the spending plan will be held at 10 a.m. on Wednesday in the second floor courtroom of the historic county courthouse in Mt. Vernon.

The 2011 budget projected a deficit of almost $144,000, but the county ended the year $136,092 in the black, mostly because the 3 percent emergency reserve remained untouched. The 2012 budget calls for a deficit of $227,626, more than $100,000 beyond the mandated emergency reserve.

"This budget includes a raise of approximately $500 for each full-time employee and a 2.5 percent increase for part-time employees," said County Clerk Gary Emerson. "Health insurance costs for the county went up slightly, but costs for employees declined slightly."

The commissioners remained very cautious, and revenue for 2012 is projected at $4,129,182, about $13,000 less than what was received last year.

"Revenues are expected to be less for some departments, because of the loss of grants or contracts that were in place last year," said Emerson. "Hopefully, sales tax revenues will rise a little. We still have not caught up to sales tax revenues of four to five years ago."

Sheriff's budget

Sheriff Brad DeLay is requesting a $1.5 million budget in 2012, which is double what was actually spent in 2011. DeLay is asking for more money in order to give raises and hire more deputies. He also has requested $492,000 in new cars after getting none in 2011.

The commission has proposed spending 3.3 percent more on deputies salaries and buying no new vehicles. Their budget includes $115,000 for fuel and maintenance, about $3,000 above what was spent in 2011 but $27,000 under the amount budgeted. DeLay requested $190,000 for 2012.

Commissioners have again included no holiday pay for officers. DeLay requested $25,000 and spent $18,024 in 2011.

Jail budget

Commissioners have proposed spending $446,165 on the county jail for 2112, almost $100,000 less than DeLay requested and $50,000 less than was spent in 2011.

Salaries, which closed out 2011 at $292,351, will cost the county $2,300 more in the proposed budget. DeLay requested $352,857, which includes hiring more people.

Expenses for boarding inmates at other counties should largely disappear in 2012. DeLay spent $65,225 in 2011 and commissioners agreed with his request for $10,000 to cover all the costs for 2012. Commissioners also hope to hold down medical expenses for prisoners, budgeting $45,000 for the year, up $5,000 from 2011 but $10,000 less than DeLay requested.

Other departments

Prosecutor Don Trotter is due to get $800 more in office expenses than he requested. Trotter asked for $17,000 more than the commissioners plan to approve in salaries for his staff.

The Juvenile Office is slated to receive $120,978, about $600 less than it spent in 2011 but $2,000 more than was requested. Commissioners included $5,305 for equipment, nearly double the amount requested.

The child support enforcement unit spent $14,000 more than was budgeted in 2011 and is due to get $209,641 in 2012, a drop of $6,000 from the 2011 benchmark.

The health department, which has relied heavily on grant funding in recent years, expects only $6,000 of its $605,539 to come from grants in 2012. Commissioners opted for flexibility in scheduling $95,136 in miscellaneous funds for health services, $5,000 more than what was spent in 2011 and $61,000 more than had been budgeted last year. Director Alethea Goodman had requested $384,733 for salaries, a total commissioners reduced by $14,000.

Collector Kelli McVey is slated to receive almost $3,000 more for office expenses than he spent in 2011, and Circuit Court Clerk Steve Kahre is due to receive $5,250 for mileage and training after receiving nothing in 2011.

Administrative expenses

The county commission kept its own budget close to 2011 totals. The major exceptions were for equipment, boosting that amount from less than $1,000 in 2011 to $11,200 in 2012. Legal services, which included $107,063 in 2011, dropped to $75,000 in 2012.

The buildings and grounds budget ended 2011 at $14,000 under projections. For 2012, commissioners are looking at spending $9,000 more than in 2011. They have proposed setting aside $10,000 more for increased utilities expenses, boosting lawn care by almost $2,000 and reducing funds for jail upkeep by $4,000.

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