June 7, 2017 Edition

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Road fund hit by floods,
new jail finances assessed

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

With road repairs still underway from the recent flooding, the Lawrence County Budget Committee reviewed the state of the road fund at a meeting Monday.

While spending more than projected, Treasurer Marilyn Crafton said it will likely catch up in the fall as property tax comes in. FEMA relief is uncertain as the county still awaits a federal disaster declaration.

On Monday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson submitted a request for a federal disaster declaration for 31 counties, including Lawrence County.

County Judge John Thomison said the department can't wait for disaster aide to do needed repairs, and he is looking for cost savings where he can.

Structure damage remaining includes a collapsed box culvert on Lawrence Road 269, which Thomison plans to replace with a used tank car saving tens of thousands. Thomison said much of his remaining expenses will be man hours, equipment and materials.

"We have had our hands full," Thomison said.

Jail staff increase expected

The committee also discussed staff requirements for the new jail. With a projected six or seven additional hires expected, the sales tax designated jail maintenance is not expected to cover the new expenses.

Committee Chair Junior Briner said they will have to find a solution fast as the jail is projected to be ready by the first of 2018.

The county will save on rent of off-site locations due to the jail being moved out of the courthouse as several offices are planned to be moved into the vacant area. County Clerk Tina Stowers said the county could save as much as $16,000 annually on rent alone.

Alex Latham said while the jail is first priority, he'd also like to see a long-term plan that included employee raises. Briner suggested bringing in a human resources expert to do an assessment on employee wages. Thomison said he would get a couple of proposals for the committee to review by July.

Also at the meeting, the committee voted to merge the floodplain and the ADA managers into a single position.

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