MOUNT VERNON — Knox County Sheriff David Shaffer presented preliminary 2019 budgets to the Knox County Commissioners Tuesday for the sheriff’s office and Knox County Jail, both adding up to $5.98 million, with a discussion on cruiser purchase increases. The 2019 figures include 3 percent raises outlined in labor contracts for both sheriff’s patrol officers, as well as jail officers.
Normally, the sheriff’s office needs about three to four new cruisers per year to stay on a purchase rotation after the older models have accumulated 150,000 to 200,000 miles, with purchase totals in 2017 for cruisers at $103,846, and this year, $129,535. But those costs — for six new Ford Explorers to arrive in late January 2019 — are budgeted at $230,688, or about $38,000 per Ford Explorer.
That is about $28,000 more than it should be for the six cruisers, the reason being that Ford shut the sheriff’s office out of buying 2019 models as the company is going toward a new style model for 2020. The sheriff’s office was able to get six 2019 models by another means from Ford through an existing Ohio-based fleet, Shaffer said. But it meant buying all the pre-outfitted features already in place, such as the sirens, consoles and cages for sheriff’s vehicles, instead of saving money and having them installed separately. With the six new cruisers soon to be in place, the entire sheriff’s office fleet will be Explorers, with the exception of two Chevrolet Impalas used by school resource officers, Shaffer said.
Another sheriff’s office budget increase involves hiring a new sergeant-level officer by mid-year, budgeted from six to nine months, whose primary function will be to ensure that all sheriff’s employees have attained all necessary trainings and certificates. Shaffer said the position is necessary because patrol and jail sergeants are limited in the amount of supervising duties they can handle. The new position will raise the “law enforcement salaries” budget line item from $1,348,000 this year to a projected $1,485,000 next year.
Still another sheriff’s office projected budget increase in 2019 involves a newly-implemented wrist ID scanning system for inmates, at a cost of about $18,000, as well as new body cameras and tasers. The body cameras are under a five-year program that allows for their replacement after two and-a-half years, and then after five years. The new items are expected to increase the sheriff’s equipment budget from $37,500 this year to $74,265 next year. In total, this year’s sheriff’s office budget of $2,695,483 is projected in 2019 to be $3,021,174. County commissioners said they expect to receive an entire preliminary budget for 2019 by next week.
The Knox County Jail budget is projected to increase slightly, from $2,945,592 this year to $2,957,770 in 2019. Contracted services are set to increase from $24,980 this year to $58,180 to cover the contract of a part-time nurse to complement the full-time nurse, Shaffer said. The part-time jail nurse position will work at least one day per weekend and be on call the other weekend day. It has to do with meeting standards for inmate care, he added, noting, “Jail standards indicate that anyone who fills out a medical request has to be received the same day.”
The jail should receive a cost savings of about $40,000 when full automation of jail is implemented early next year, county Administrator Jason Booth said. So though next year’s utilities budget is projected at $290,000, about $7,500 more than this year, the total may be considerably lower due to cost savings from a new system.