MOUNT VERNON — Knox County Commissioners are scheduled to consider the county’s approximately $18 million 2020 General Fund budget in the coming weeks. Thursday’s commissioner’s meeting gave Knox County Sheriff David Shaffer an opportunity to outline budget details for the Sheriff’s Office and County Jail operating budgets.

The 2020 appropriation sought for the Sheriff’s Office, $3.22 million, would be $200,000 higher than last year. One reason is all contracted positions, such as sheriff’s officers under contract through their union, the Fraternal Order of Police, are to receive 3 percent salary increases.

Salaries for six sheriff’s detectives are set to rise from $316,129, combined, to $398,337. Shaffer said the reason is that county Job and Family Services, which has paid the salary of Sgt. Dan Bobo, can no longer afford to do so because of the rise in cost of children’s cases involving neglect and abuse in the county system.

The sheriff’s office budget will now need to absorb the cost of Bobo’s salary, while already picking up the cost of his benefits. But Shaffer said since that since more than 60 percent of Knox County children’s cases originate in the city of Mount Vernon, city officials have been approached to share costs. The city has not yet replied, he added.

Bobo handles cases involving crimes against minors, including sexual predator investigations.

Bobo is assisted by a certified service dog named Fritter, who offers therapeutic support, comfort and companionship for children. The dog displays empathy in interview rooms and can be on hand if children are taken from a home.

The sheriff’s office budget also seeks funding in 2020 for four new marked SUV cruisers, as well as two used vehicles at a cost of $185,000. That’s down from last year’s appropriation of $230,688 for new cruisers.

The Knox County Jail budget is anticipated to decrease from $2,957,770 to $2,481,437. County Administrator Jason Booth said this is attributable to moving an annual bond payment of $519,000 out of the jail budget and into a bond retirement account. The bond goes toward paying the cost of the jail built in the early 2000s, with 20-year financing that still has two years of remaining payments.

Commissioners also heard a budget report for 2020 from the OSU Extension – Knox County Office, with a budget of $248,000 last year anticipated to be reduced by $20,000 due to lower personnel costs. OSU Extension’s John Barker said two long-time employees — Larry Hall, educator, and Kathy Gamble, an office associate for 32 years, are retiring.

They will be replaced next year.

The extension has three educator positions, with the county picking up 34 percent of the salary and benefit costs and the state paying 66 percent. The county budget pays for two part-time secretaries.

All told, Barker said, 30 percent of the extension office budget with employees’ time management is taken up with duties related to the Knox County Fair.

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Larry Di Giovanni: 740-397-5333 or larry@mountvernonnews.com and on Twitter, @mountvernonnews