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Projected carryover could help out sheriff’s office now



Picking up a possible deficit in the sheriff’s road deputy salary fund could come from the more than $1 million originally set aside by the county commission as unbudgeted money.

That is if fellow commissioners approve a proposal by Bill Pratt.

On Tuesday the commissioners met with officeholders to show them that if they continued to spend funds on salaries at the current rate, there would be a $830,000 deficit by the end of the year. That figure is based on current spending from January through March 2 that takes in five of the total 26 pay periods this year for the county.

Among those potential deficits would be close to a $106,000 shortfall in the fund that pays for the road deputy salaries. Sheriff Jeff Lawless was unable to beat the Tuesday meeting because he had to attend a Buckeye Sheriff’s Association seminar in Columbus that day.

At its regular Thursday meeting Pratt asked for a precise figure from Lawless in the next few weeks to determine his fiscal needs.

Right now, all the deputies’ salaries come from the fund that is financed entirely from one-half percent of the state’s one and a half percent sales tax. That money is allocated exclusively to fund law enforcement, 911, the emergency medical service and emergency management agency.

“We want a firm amount of money that he thinks it will take to fund those road patrol deputies through the end of the year,” Pratt said.

Recently the sheriff said he doesn’t see where he can make any budget cuts without cutting services.

“Any cuts will mean shutting down the jail or taking officers off the road,” Lawless said last week.

At the end of December 2011 the commissioners approved a 2012 budget of $13,181,135 that reflected a 10 percent cut in all officeholders’ budgets.

It also reflected a decrease of between $300,000 and $400,000 in state Local Government Funds that provides a revenue source for the county. The county also has a $1.3 million carryover from 2011.

On top of that appropriated money is an additional $1 million that the commissioners held in reserve as a carryover for 2013 that includes sales tax funds.

A carryover is required to cover expenses for the first few months of each year since first half property taxes are not received until March. Pratt would like to take money from the unappropriated sales tax fund to pick up the deputies’ shortfall.

Pratt also asked for the sheriff’s input on a proposal that would move the Ironton Police Department’s dispatching to the sheriff’s office. Merging the dispatching operations has been offered as an option to alleviate some of Ironton’s budget woes.

“I plan on presenting a proposal at next Thursday’s meeting with some ideas that might help with some of the dispatching issues and help fund the road deputies for the year,” Lawless said Thursday afternoon.

In other action the commissioners:

• Approved a contract with Scioto County to house Lawrence County inmates at a rate of $48 a day with 10 beds available;

• Received correspondence that Myers Fastlane Convenience Store and Arabia Pit Stop, both in Pedro, are seeking liquor licenses;

• Received correspondence on a petition to establish Private Drive 763 as a public roadway;

• Reported that there will be a public viewing of Private Drive 2265 with the possible intent of turning it into a township road;

• Received the county dog warden’s report where 31 dogs were destroyed, nine were sold and none were redeemed. There were 74 dogs in custody that week;

• Approved a contract with Euthenics, Inc. of Strongsville to provide design work on landslide repair for County Road 105 for $49,219.