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Budget cuts could lead to layoffs in Lawrence County

Dec. 20, 2012 @ 11:41 PM

IRONTON -- The Lawrence County Board of Commissioners approved a 2013 budget Thursday with 23.5 percent cuts to salaries and retirement, a move which could lead to layoffs and reductions in services.

"I was told they were looking at cuts of 23.5 percent across the board," said Sheriff Jeff Lawless. "We couldn't make it through this year without additional appropriations. Without additional funds, there will be cuts. I could be faced with the option of cutting road patrols or shutting down the jail."

"We just had an 8 percent increase in health insurance costs," said Commission President Les Boggs. "We are concerned about potential cuts in state local government funds. We also don't know yet what the casino money will be."

"I hate it, but you can't exceed what the revenue projections will be," Boggs said. "We have to live within our budget."

Buddy Fry, director of the county's Emergency Medical Services ambulance program, said he hasn't replaced several positions of people who left in anticipation of the budget cuts. "No ambulance stations are anticipated to be closed," Fry said.

"We don't anticipate any layoffs. Our patient billing and number of runs has been pretty constant at 28 to 30 per day. That brings in $2.2 million out of our $3.2 million budget. The rest comes from the half-percent sales tax."

"Due to increased costs of operations, it is going to require some changes in operation," he said. "We are looking into it. We may have to bring some things up to the board next week."

County Auditor Jason Stephens said he could be forced to layoff employees.

"These cuts will impact our office, but I'm not sure how yet. I'll have to look at the line items. The county has a lot of state mandates it has to address. We'll cope with it, whatever it is, but it will be tough. We will need to become more efficient."

Clerk of Courts Mike Patterson said no employees will be laid off in his office.

"We get extra funds in from the title side, but I am concerned about the legal side," he said. Any transfers would have to be approved by the commissioners, Patterson said.

"We need new computers, but other planned improvements will be put on hold now," he said.

"I haven't seen the budget yet," said Brigham Anderson, Lawrence County prosecuting attorney-elect. "I filed a court-ordered budget."

In other action, the board accepted the resignation of Prosecuting Attorney J.B. Collier Jr. effective Dec. 31. The board named Anderson to serve as prosecutor from Jan. 1 through Jan. 6. Anderson was elected prosecutor last month and his term begins on the first Monday in January. The temporary appointment will provide the county with a prosecutor until this four-year term begins.

The board also received and filed notification from Anderson that he will work as prosecutor on a part-time basis and maintain his private practice.

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