Knox County budget deficit non-existent

Vincennes, IN
Vincennes, IN

KNOX COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) – Many have been left confused after a potential budget issue in Knox County.

In July, Knox County Auditor Lisa Madden says the Knox County Council hired H.J. Umbaugh & Associates to put together a comprehensive financial plan for the county.

She says that plan states that County General, Area Plan, & the Knox County Park & Recreation are severely underfunded.

It’s becoming common practice in Indiana to operate at a fiscal deficit since it’s hard to plan for budgeting at the end of the year.

Toward the end of the year, various offices in Knox County made claims to finish off or deplete their annual budgets.

The auditor says this amount was around a million dollars.

She says the office requested two million dollars total to cover the claims, as well as payroll going into January of 2017.

As of November 30th, she says the county only had around $58,000.

The auditor says it is the County Council’s job to approve the budget, but it is her office’s job to make sure the county stays out of the red.

That’s why her office requested money be moved to the county’s general fund.

Here’s where the confusion sets in.

County Council President Bob Lechner claims the Auditor made up a two million dollar deficit, and in reality there is no deficit at all.

He says, “It was quite frankly nothing that the council was involved in, except we were asked to fund a deficit that didn’t even exist. So all of this happened for no reason.”

But, Auditor Madden said in a statement to News 10,

“The email got misconstrued that the Auditor’s Office had misappropriated $1.8 million dollars coming from Bob Lechner, Knox County Council Member.”

She goes on to say,

“This entire incident boils down to the Republican Chair Person and the council leadership – not the entire council – trying to make the auditor resign and place someone hand-picked into the seat of auditor”. 

 

County Council President Lechner tells us there were instances that employees were given paychecks, and then were told not to cash them and give them back.

He explains, “The checks that were taken out of employees hands prior to Christmas and not issued to them was an error. That should not have been done, and the employees, unfortunately I think are probably still somewhat wondering what is going on, and I wish they could receive an answer from the auditor herself.”

In a statement from Madden, she says,

“There were only 3 checks that had been issued in error which have since been reissued.  They were generated in a batch from software that simply needed to be recreated.  There was no animosity displayed in the Auditor’s Office regarding the handing out or reissuing of these 3 checks.”

Madden says all of payroll for 2016 has since been taken care of.

The next time this issue may be brought would be the next county council meeting. It is scheduled for January 10th.

To see the first press release issued by Knox County Auditor Lisa Madden’s click here.

To view Madden’s second release to News 10, click here.

News 10 will continue to follow this story.