Knox County commissioners agreed May 11 to proceed with a planned outside study of how county government operates even though the low bid came in greater than what had been budgeted.

The county sent out requests for proposals for an organizational study to 17 companies. Only one bid was submitted, however. Municipal Resources Inc. submitted a bid of $62,900.

The 2010 budget has $45,000 set aside for the study.

The county negotiated with the firm to bring the cost down to $6,000 more than the budget. The additional money will come from the contingency budget in the 2010 Knox budget.

The goal of the study is to see if the operations are efficient and whether tax and fee revenues from county taxpayers are being maximized. The first part of the planned study will review and compare county services to those in similar sized counties. The Knox County Sheriff’s Office will be excluded from this part of the study.

The second part will do an organizational study with recommendations on how to better run the departments. Again, the sheriff’s office will not be part of this study. The third part will look at the sheriff’s office.

The sheriff’s office will be studied separately because of the uniqueness of law enforcement, county officials said.

Earlier this month, County Administrator Andrew Hart said recommendations would be received this summer and while some could be implemented immediately some may have to wait for the 2011 budget.

There are about 75 full-time and 50 part-time workers employed by Knox County. The 2010 budget is nearly $9 million. The bulk of that money goes for the sheriff patrol and jail.