Fiscal Court Magistrates approved a $365,325.50 McLean County Sheriff’s Office budget in a special-called meeting earlier this month. 

Expenditures are estimated to be up by about $32,000, or almost 9 percent this year, due, in large part, to what McLean County Sheriff Ken Frizzell referred to as the cost of operations.

Insurance cost increases, travel fees for training in eastern Kentucky and rising equipment costs are all expected in the near future, he said.

Frizzell said his office plans to rely more this year on a state temporary loan program aimed at aiding county law enforcers outside the tax collection season.

The Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet offers sheriff’s departments access to an expenditure loan program along 12-month contracts, and Frizzell said his office has always used the program, but has never borrowed as much as he expects to this year. 

State advancements were approved at a maximum of $85,000 this year, up $28,000 over last year’s rate. That equates to a little more than $7,000 a month and accounts for 87 percent of the budgetary increase.

Frizzell said applying for more money through the no-interest state loan program relieves possible pressures on the county to float the department through slow months.

Tax receipts spike during November and December, which allow Frizzell’s office to usually operate without help during the close of one year and into the next. During the summer months, however, sheriff’s departments take in very little revenue, meaning big expenditures such as salaries or equipment costs are often on borrowed money. Frizzell has the option to rely partly on the county, but he opted against it this year, putting the bulk of the pressure on the state.

“Throughout the year, we have to pay salaries and equipment costs,” he said. “In previous years, the Fiscal Court would have to float the sheriff’s office. The state advancement will take that undue burden off of the county. We will just pay that money directly back to the state once our tax collections start.”

Still, McLean County is borrowing under the curve, says Finance Officer Dinky Hicks. The Union County Sheriff’s Office mirrors McLean’s budget, according to state auditors. Hicks said Union County’s state advancement loan is much larger. 

Hicks said McLean’s two $7,083.33 advancement payments from the state may not be needed in November and December, as tax money begins to flow into the office. Still, Frizzell added, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

“It’s always better to budget a little higher than you think you may need than to estimate low,” he said.

In the past, Frizzell said, his office would avoid equipment costs until the end-of-year tax receipts were in. This didn’t give him the option to shop much for better prices and forced him to buy in bulk. To some degree, this budget gives him breathing room to make larger purchases throughout the year.

Frizzell and Hicks estimate that the office should balance out at the end of the fiscal year with a little more than $8,000 in surplus. 

State law requires Frizzell to cap salaries for deputies and assistants in his office. The court approved his $68,000 maximum, which accounts for full-time salaries and wages, overtime wages, part-time salaries and wages, vacation and sick leave. It is unchanged from last year’s amount.

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