MOUNT VERNON — Something that happens just once every 11 years, and will do so again with next year being a leap year, is going to affect the 2020 Knox County General Fund budget, according to county Administrator Jason Booth. He briefed commissioners about it Tuesday before the new general fund budget was unanimously approved.
“In summary, it happens because 26 bi-weekly pay periods only cover 364 days in a year, not 365, or 366 in leap years,” Booth wrote in his report. “Those extra ‘unaccounted for’ days add up to create an additional pay period every 11 years. This will result in additional payroll and benefit expenses of $312,000 for 2020.”
In effect, the accumulation of those unaccounted for days after more than a decade has created one extra pay period, or a 27th pay period for 2020, accounting for the $312,000, he said. Without it, the county’s 2020 General Fund budget of $18,695,874 shows a 4.9 percent increase over 2019 Appropriations, which is about the expected increase of 5 percent or thereabouts each year. It includes a 3 percent salary increase for county employees under negotiated union contracts.
Only two new positions have been added to next year’s budget, a juvenile court transportation officer and an assistant public defender.
Despite the extra pay period, the county general fund projected revenues of $18,838,000 leave a net budget surplus of $142,126. The county also has a contingencies line item of $325,000 in the event that unforeseen expenses arise. Additionally, commissioners voted Tuesday to create a budget stabilization fund and place $50,000 in it. Booth said it will be a special revenue fund that would help pay for higher-than-anticipated benefits that must be paid out, such as sick leave and vacation time.
The 2020 general fund budget funds essential county departments, such as the Knox County Sheriff’s Department and county jail; the county court system including common pleas, juvenile court, probate court, clerk of courts, public defender’s office, and prosecutor’s office; county auditor; county treasurer; board of elections; animal control; building and grounds; agriculture; veterans services; the landfill; and numerous other budgets including the commissioner’s budget.
The commissioner’s budget is expected to decrease by about $112,000 to $1,327,525. Booth said one reason is that IT (Information Technology) services that have been provided by Infolink, for handling Internet and computer-related issues, has been removed from the commissioner’s budget and placed under the county IT budget.
The county is phasing out Infolink and will instead provide its own IT services in-house, Booth said.
Infolink will continue to provide IT services to the county through April of 2020 at a cost of $108,000.
It makes more sense for the county to provide its own IT service dedicated entirely to the county and its technology, he added.
The county’s IT manager is Kyle Webb and two others work with him.
Booth noted that the board of elections is expected to see its 2019 appropriations of $494,405 increase to $543,095.
That is due to 2020 being a presidential election year, which will increase election board costs such mailings and advertising.
The county’s bond payments amount to $850,000 in 2020. Booth said the 2021 budget year will see two bonds paid off in full — the county jail, and land at the Knox County Fairgrounds used essentially for additional parking.
Yet to be approved in coming weeks is the non-general fund portion of the county budget, which covers programs that receive federal funding such as Knox County Job and Family Services.