Robert Ballay: Numbers don’t add up for law enforcement tax
Last year, the Lawrence County Commission proposed a law enforcement tax to “supplement” the General Revenue budget, correct the over-crowded, aging jail situation and hire more deputies.
One year later, I have downloaded the various budget spreadsheets to find that General Revenue money previously allocated to the sheriff and jail has virtually vanished, from $1.4 million to $30,000.
In 2016, total funding was $5,121,782 ($767,779 for the sheriff and $699,780 for the jail). In 2017, total funding was $4,586,330 ($719,997 for the sheriff and $716,697 for the jail). This year, total funding is $4,568,542 ($5,000 for the sheriff and $25,000 for the jail).
This information was downloaded from the county clerk’s website on Oct. 4. Values are from the “All Funds Summary” worksheet, a table that details how General Revenue is allocated. It does not include the law enforcement tax.
In a Sept. 22 letter to the editor by Lawrence County Commissioner Sam Goodman, the commission sought to minimize this “vanishing money” issue by stating “the sheriff has four funds available…for use at his discretion under statutory guidelines.”
But, these are the same funds that were available last year, at the very time our commission told us an additional tax was needed immediately?
I do not claim to be an accountant or auditor, but it looks to me as if the sheriff was given money with one hand while it was taken away with the other, and taxpayers were misled about the benefits to our local law enforcement.
Furthermore, the “vanishing” $1.4 million has in fact been shared amongst the other departments, so that our tax dollars have gone to their benefit, not our public safety.