‘Conservative spending’ helps Law. Co.

Steve Chapman

Eastern Lawrence County Commissioner Tim Selvey, center, who did most of the talking for the commission during the Jan. 16 budget hearing, speaks on county austerity while Lawrence County Clerk Tammy Riebe and Presiding Commissioner Bob Senninger look on. (Photo by Ryan Squibb)

The Lawrence County Commission and other county officials unveiled the county’s budget for 2020 at a public hearing at the Mt. Vernon Historic Courthouse on Thursday, Jan. 16.
This year, the Lawrence County Budget has an available beginning cash balance of $6,905,181.97, total revenues of $12,524,099.45; combined, they give the budget total available revenues of $19,429,281.42. Total expenditures are expected to be $14,146,898.65, leaving the estimated ending cash balance for the year at $5,282,382.77.
The total funds available this year is about $2 million higher than in 2019, thanks mainly to a higher than expected beginning cash balance. In 2019, the ending cash balance was estimated at $4,280,346.03, about $2.7 million under this year’s beginning cash available balance.
Kathy Fairchild, Lawrence County treasurer, credited the increase in the funds to “conservative spending” within the county.
“Our sales tax was down half-a-percent, but our base tax was up,” she said. “But, because our sales tax hasn’t been showing signs of growth, we budgeted the same amount this year that we did last year and the year before, so we’re still expecting it to be pretty flat. Property tax was up a little, so overall, revenue was up a little, but not a great amount. So, the improvement that you’re seeing is mostly (due to) conservative spending.”
Tim Selvey, eastern commissioner for Lawrence County, credited Lawrence County Prosecutor Don Trotter as an example of conservative spending, stating that his addition of an assistant prosecutor to his staff has allowed for the faster movement of court cases through the system, cutting down on housing and transportation expenses of prisoners at the county jail.
“Last year, we were spending more money to house prisoners because the volume of the prisoners going through,” Selvey said, “and Don Trotter, our prosecutor, had stated that (with) adding another assistant prosecutor, we’d be able to cut that number of prisoners down, and he’s been true to his promise. We’ve had (fewer) prisoners (and) less expense for housing prisoners.”
Also credited was the increased use of GPS ankle monitors, which allows those accused of crimes to live at home while being monitored electronically at a cost of $10 per day, as opposed to housing them at $40 per day in the jail.
Tammy Riebe, Lawrence County Clerk, reported during the meeting that all county employees had received a three-percent raise.
“No full-time employee will be starting at less than $12 an hour,” she said.
The 2020 Lawrence County Budget will be available for viewing online at the Lawrence County Clerk’s webpage. Go online to www.lawrencecountymo.org/ county-clerk, and click on “Budget.”


Lawrence County Record

312 S. Hickory St.
Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


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