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Monday, May 2, 2016

LawCo commission looking at restricted budget for 2013

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

SAM GOODMAN [Order this photo]
A public hearing will be held at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 16 in Mt. Vernon on the proposed budget for the 2013 fiscal year for Lawrence County. Presiding Commission Sam Goodman provided details about discussions on the county's financial road map during the 89th annual Soils and Crops Conference at the University of Missouri's Southwest Research Center on Jan. 3.

Goodman said the county office holders submitted funding requests that would use all of the county's anticipated 2013 revenues by mid-year. Income for the county, most of which comes from sales tax, was likely to remain flat with 2012, and county commissioners would plan accordingly, he said.

In general, Goodman said the county was in "pretty good shape." He praised the work of Rodney Barnes, long-time western district commissioner, for providing financial guidance. Barnes did not run for re-election in 2012 and will be succeeded by David Botts, of Mt. Vernon.

Big capital improvement projects have been finished, Goodman said. The roof on the historic courthouse roof has been redone and the finials repaired. He hoped to get grant money to help repair sidewalks around the courthouse. Otherwise he expected the commissioners would dip into savings for capital improvements to cover the cost.

Adding "age appropriate lighting" around the courthouse is also under consideration. Goodman wanted to have something that would aesthetically fit around the building, which opened in 1901.

"The use tax has been a savior for the county," Goodman said.

Revenues from the county's use tax, capturing the equivalent to sales tax on out-of-county purchases, including motor vehicles, generated $393,104.82, in 2012, at a time when sales tax income has lagged. Goodman said he asked the Missouri Department of Revenue how to budget for use tax income, which rose 24 percent in 2012, and was told there is no way to predict a total.

The county's half-cent sales tax to pay for construction and maintenance of the Justice Center has generated more than $6.5 million since it went on the books in 2007. Goodman said commissioners hope to retire the tax early, possibly by two years. A fraction of the tax will remain to cover maintenance on the building.

The annual budget hearing will be held in the old circuit courtroom on the second floor of the historic courthouse.

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