Probation Services is projected to lose money in new budget year

The political machine has bragged for several years that Probation Services makes money for the county.  It’s not a lot of money but Probation has usually been revenue positive, leaving more in the general fund than was spent administering the service.  However, that seems to coming to an end.  The approved budget for FY 16 projects that Probation Services will actually lose about $2,200.

Joni Seratt is the Probation Director.  Earlier this year, I learned that she is the daughter of Tony Crisp, Chief of Police in the City of Maryville, and Phyllis Crisp, the Register of Deeds.  Thus, the Mayor gave the position to the daughter of a political machine family.

If the county is going to lose money on Probation Services, should the commission look at privatizing it?

When I mentioned this to the Finance Director his response was that he was sure that Seratt wouldn’t actually spend as much as projected.  The Mayor should have made her come back to him with a balanced budget before submitting it to the Budget Committee.  Instead, Seratt has been rewarded with a pay raise.

These are the probation numbers from the recently approved budget.  Notice the budgeted increase in pay for the Administrator position.

Fund/Cost Center Title FY 14 FY 15 FY 16
105 Administrator $57,250 $65,000 $65,462
53910 Probation Services $504,783 $606,563 $624,482
43393 Fees Probation $607,026 $657,245 $622,250

Since the Administrator numbers don’t match the payroll, I wrote the H.R. Director for an explanation about Seratt’s pay. This is the response that I received.

“Tona,

I have provided a breakdown of Joni’s salary history dating back to when she became the Director of Probation.  I hope you will find this information helpful.

  • Hired as Director of Probation – 4/2/2012 – $55,000
  • 7/1/2012 – County Commission approved the FY budget which included across the board increases for all employees.  This took Joni’s salary to $56,250
  • 7/1/2014 – received salary increase to $58,250
  • 3/1/2015 – received salary increase to $60,000

Thank you,

Jenny Morgan
Human Resources Director
Blount County Government”

The fiscal year (FY) runs July 1st to June 30th.  How many people in County government received two pay increases in one FY like Joni Seratt?  We keep hearing about the low pay of deputies but Seratt received two pay increase in one year to run a department that is projected to lose money.

What incentive is there for Seratt to actually keep the department in the black?  Is there a 3rd raise on the horizon?  Where else can someone take over a department, project that it will lose money and get two pay raises in the same FY?  It must be nice to be born into a politically connected family, known as the good ole’ boys of Blount County.

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