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Commission must use discretion picking most pressing needs in d

It was announced this past week that the Harrison County Commission has more than a million dollars in surplus. This year's fund balance is $1,070,957, with the balance being money carried over from the previous year's budget. This is good.

But approximately $200,000 of the amount has been earmarked for an already-approved 3 percent pay raise for county employees and a figure estimated at $350,000 -- higher or lower depending on any change orders in construction -- will go toward courthouse renovations. Only after construction is completed at the end of December will officials have a better idea what those final expenses will be.

According to Harrison County Administrator James Harris, the amount the commission will have to work with after pay raises and renovations is about $521,000. And the commissioners have not yet granted outstanding requests from various agencies seeking dollars from the fund, the total of those requests exceeding $307,000. This would leave approximately $213,000 to be put into a contingency fund, which Harris says is less than what is normally designated for that fund.

Our point is that we earnestly hope that the county exercises more discretion in its distribution of surplus funds than state officials have shown with the money with which it has to work.

Since constitutionally the county budget rests with the commission, clearly it is the commissioners' call.Thus we urge the county leaders to pay very close attention to the greatest needs in their jurisdiction and dispel any possible thoughts of favoritism.

Robert F. Stealey

Telegram Editorial Board chairman

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