County OKs subsidy funds for sheriff

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$20,000 to help department as it awaits LG&E ’09 fees

By Phyllis McLaughlin

Trimble County Sheriff Tim Coons was granted $20,000 in subsidy funding by Fiscal Court on Monday, Jan. 18, to bolster his amended 2010 budget.

Some of the funding, Coons said, will help pay for one new part-time deputy at the Sheriff’s Office.

Coons has hired Larry “Bo” Simpson, a retired 20-year law-enforcement veteran from Oldham County, to work about 20 hours a week. Additionally, he hired Rich Knighten, a retired chief deputy from the U.S. Marshall’s office in Louisville, as a deputy. Knighten, with 30-plus years of experience, has offered to work for the department as an unpaid employee.

Both men were sworn in to their offices on Monday by Judge-Executive Randy Stevens. Coons told the court the extra help is needed, because in 2009, his office has handled 400 cases more than in 2008. In an interview Tuesday, Coons said the two men primarily will help with evening patrols in the county.

Knighten’s offer to work without pay was accepted by Coons, who said the Trimble County resident has “always been helpful” to the department.

“We just received two guys that are going to give the Sheriff’s Office tremendous assets,” Coons said. With their combined knowledge and connections, “we will have resources we’ve never had before.”

Coons told Fiscal Court that he was forced to ask for the county subsidy because he is still awaiting an anticipated $500,000 in franchise fees owed by LG&E.

Coons said LG&E’s fees are set by the state revenue department, which bases the fees each year on assessments of the power company’s real property in Trimble County.

He said this year, LG&E’s parent company, E.On-U.S., has filed a dispute with the state over the assessment. He said a revenue department official told him the two sides have come to an agreement, but that it has not yet been finalized. Coons said he expects to receive the fees by the end of March.

About 60 percent of LG&E’s franchise fees are distributed to the Trimble County School District, and smaller portions go to the other taxing districts, including the Trimble County Library, the Trimble County Extension Service and the Trimble County Health Department.

The sheriff’s office operates solely on franchise and other fees collected throughout the year, Coons said. The office collects county property taxes and receives a fee for that work. Additionally, it receives fees for serving warrants and other legal documents to county residents.

The county usually pays $15,000 to $20,000 in subsidy funds each year to the sheriff’s office. However, Coons said, any excess fees collected by his department must be turned over to Fiscal Court at the end of the department’s fiscal year, Dec. 31. This year, Coons said he expects to return $5,000 in excess 2009 fees to the county.