Coronavirus: Knox Circuit Court Clerk requests $1.5M to cover revenue losses caused by pandemic

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Knox County officials said Tuesday that Knox County Circuit Court Clerk Charlie Susano requested a $1.5 million loan that his office could draw down as needed to help offset lost revenue and cover expenses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Knox County Commission is expected to discuss the request on at its July meeting. If approved, between the circuit court clerk’s request and the Knox County Sheriff’s Office bonuses approved last week, the County Commission will have committed to allocating $3 million of the city’s reserve, also known as its rainy day fund, in just under four weeks.

The county’s new budget fiscal year begins Wednesday, July 1.

In response to the circuit court clerk’s request, Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs issued the following statement also on Tuesday:

“In early June, I proposed what I felt was a fiscally responsible budget that carefully protected not only our services but also our rapidly depleting financial resources due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with my finance director, I explained several times to the Knox County Commission that we are in unchartered territory and that revenues and shortfalls will be hard to predict in the coming months and quite possibly for the rest of the year. We also told Commissioners that some of the county’s independent Fee Officers were concerned that the departments they oversee would not make payroll. This situation—an unexpected expense due to the pandemic–is exactly what we cautioned against during last week’s budget hearings. My overall concern is that this may be the first of many disruptions to Knox County’s financial standing.”

Glenn Jacobs, Knox County mayor

Apart from the circuit court, Charlie Susano also oversees civil sessions, or small claims, court. These courts operate on fees and not on taxpayer dollars. County officials say the office continues to pay more than $2 million per year in litigation taxes to help fund Knox County Schools, the Knox County Sheriff’s Office and other county entities.

“This loan will allow us to continue fulfilling our constitutional obligation to service the courts of Knox County,” Susano said. “We’re OK right now, but we want to be prepared if the COVID-19 pandemic continues to negatively impact our new case filings.

“We will utilize this loan only on an as-needed basis to help offset any future monthly shortfalls. Once new case filings return to their pre-pandemic levels, we will begin the process of repaying the loan.”

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