Carter Commission funds Planning Department at last year's level with 3.5 percent pay raise

Sue Guinn Legg • Jul 1, 2019 at 10:39 PM

ELIZABETHTON — The Carter County Commission on Monday rejected a proposed Planning Department budget with extra pay for extra duties and voted instead to fund the department at last year’s budget level with the same 3.5 percent raise budgeted for or all county employees.

The county Planning Commission recommended the proposed $386,245 budget Monday afternoon after three prior budget proposals for the department were rejected by the commission’s budget committee.

Planning Director Chris Schuettler said it was the third compromise budget that had been proposed to compensate the department’s staff for extra economic development and project oversight duties assigned to them over the past year.

He said the proposal approved by the Planning Commission on Monday would have provided the planning department’s five employees with approximately $12,214 in additional pay for the additional duties.

Up for commission’s consideration in a special called meeting Monday, the $386,245 budget proposal was amended by a voice vote after Finance Director Brad Burke said it did not reflect $22,900 in electrical permit fees, bringing the total budget proposal to $409,175.

Immediately prior to the commission’s vote on the proposal, Mayor Rusty Barnett told the commissioners he had placed information on two items in their meeting packet that were not up for Monday night but would be presented to the budget committee at its next meeting. Both items dealt with relocating the economic development and project oversight duties currently assigned to the Planning Department.

With two commissioners absent, a motion to approve the proposed budget with extra compensation for extra duties failed by a vote of 9-13, or four votes short of the 13 yes votes needed to pass.

Commissioner Patty Woodby then made a motion to fund the department at last year’s budget level with a 3.5 percent pay increase, or the same pay increase budgeted for other county employees.

Commissioner Brad Johnson requested an amendment of the motion to remove the department’s extra duties and Woodby said she would accept the amendment. But County Attorney Josh Hardin advised the commissioners removing the extra duties was not on their special called meeting agenda, so that could not be considered until their next regular meeting.

The motion then passed by a vote of 13-9 with Commissioners Robert Acuff, Mike Hill, Brad Johnson, Ronnie Trivett, Isaiah Grindstaff, Ross Garland, Randal Jenkins, Sonja Culler and Kelly Collins opposed.

Commissioners Woodby, Willie Campbell, Mark Blevins, Nancy Brown, Charles Von Cannon, Austin Jaynes, Layla Ward, Ginger Holden, Gary Bailey, Travis Hill, Ray Lyons, Aaron Frazier and David Miller voted in favor of the motion.

After the electronic vote was finalized, Von Cannon said he intended to vote against funding the department at last year’s level but voted for the measure in error, which gave the measure the 13 votes needed to pass.

Hardin told the commission they could entertain a motion to reconsider the vote because of the error, but the meeting was adjourned without any commissioner making a formal motion to reconsider the vote.

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