The importance of getting the budget process underway was stressed at Monday night’s Lawrence County Quorum Court meeting.

County Judge John Thomison said October would be a busy time with property taxes coming due, and the election would follow that.

Budget Committee Chair Junior Briner agreed saying, “If we wait we’ll be behind the eight ball.”

It was reported that elected officials have already started working on the budget proposals and some have been completed.

“We have to realize sales tax could go down,” Briner said. “Expenses are going to go up with the increase in minimum wage.”

Additional funding received for the Lawrence County Dispatch Center has helped the budget in 2020, and Treasurer Connie Mullen said she received a $10,000 check from the state in turnback funds because the drop off in revenue was not as much as anticipated.

Briner said the budget committee would be meeting soon.

Justices discussed the importance of Issue I for funding for not only county, but municipalities and the state overall.

The Issue would extend the existing one-half percent sales and use tax that provides funding for the four-lane highway system, county roads and city streets. The tax is set to expire June 30, 2023.

“If it fails, the money will come out of the road department,” Thomison said. “This could be a serious issue for services we need for the entire state.”

The court unanimously passed a resolution supporting the passage of Issue I and the continuation of the tax.

Lawrence County Extension Staff Chair Bryce Baldridge shared an update on the Extension Service’s programming in the county over the past year at Monday night’s meeting.

He shared that more than 197 farm visits had been made, as well as 15 in-county demonstrations for local producers. In addition, 68 producers completed pesticide applicator training.

In 4-H programming, he reported 103 members and nine volunteers. Two new clubs were formed over the past year, and two additional clubs are being organized now, one focused on agribusiness and one a virtual club for home-schooled students.

Under the family and consumer sciences umbrella, the Lawrence County Extension Homemakers members made more than 300 masks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He reported that there are currently 47 active EHC members in five clubs countywide.

Some community and economic development programs Extension has been involved in include the Agri Expo with 441 in attendance in 2020, the Ralph Joseph Youth Leadership Class, a local citizenship program for high school students, ballot issue education and 2020 Census education.

In other business, justices:

expressed support for route B for I-57 north from Lawrence County to the Missouri state line. The route would take the highway near Williams Baptist Univeristy, then north of Black River Technical College and then toward Corning.

authorized Judge Thomison to pay Lawrence County’s share of the cost to arbitrate an insurance fraud case, where a company collected the county’s payments for pharmaceutical coverage but did not pay the premium. Eight counties are involved in the case, and the cost of arbitration is expected to be between $1,200 and $2,000, with the county set to recoup as much as $60,000.

transferred $23,037.90 from the general fund to the sheriff’s department fund. The funds represented proceeds from the sale of old LCSD vehicles.

transferred $250 from the general fund to the sherriff’s department fund. The money was a reimbursement from the state for a conference that personnel did not end up attending.

passed a grant resolution for a Rural Development Grant in the amount of $20,000 to be used toward the purchase of new vehicles for the LCSD.

adopted a resolution that will allow county employees to carry unused vacation hours from 2020 into 2021. The hours which normally expire at the end of the year, are being allowed to carry over this year only due to employees not taking time off while the county was short-staffed during the response to the coronavirus.

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