Lawrence County Council edge closer to final budget adoption Tuesday evening

LAWRENCE COUNTY – The Lawrence County Council continued their budget hearing process Tuesday evening, and discussed the progress on the cuts made before adopting the 2023 budget on Thursday, October 6.

Lawrence County Council members during the budget hearing process. (From left) Julie Chase, Rick Butterfield, County Attorney Katie Simon, Council President Scott Smith, Jeff Lytton, Julie Hewetson, and Mike Wright

The proposed budget incorporated a zero percent, three percent, and five percent pay raise suggestions per department for the 2023 budget cycle.

The Council made an estimated $716,077 worth of cuts during previous budget discussions, $283,923 shy of their goal of $1 million. Additionally, there will be more than 15% in reserves from the 2023 budget.

Following this revelation, the council then voted to adopt the three percent increase, which was met with a 3-3 vote. Rick Butterfield, Mike Wright, and Scott Smith voting no, while Julie Hewetson, Julie Chase, and Jeff Lytton voted in favor of the percentage adoption.

“We would love to do the five percent increase because inflation and gas have caused issues for everyone, but we don’t feel that we can do that at this time,” said Julie Chase, referring to the five percent increase.

Previous budget years:

  • 2020 Actual – $14,504,436
  • 2021 Actual – $14,537,536
  • 2022 Actual – $16,100,294
  • 2023 Proposed budget – $17,445,873 (prior to budget cuts)

Net assessed Values:

  • 2022 – $1.6 Billion
  • 2023 – $1.9 Billion

Several departments made cuts to help get closer to the $1 million goal, including the Sheriff’s Department, Public Defenders Office, and the Lawrence County Extension Office. Additionally, the council added a line in their own 2023 budget to include ambulance services.

The rainy day fund for the county is currently set at $2.9 million.