Loudon County Commission on Monday approved a 2 percent cost of living salary increase for General Sessions and Circuit Court Clerk staff members for the last three fiscal years.
The increases have been in limbo due to ongoing litigation between Mayor Rollen “Buddy” Bradshaw and Clerk Lisa Niles.
As part of her lawsuit against the county, Niles has requested additional employees and salary increases for her office. As of last month, the department included 14 full-time employees and three part-time staff members.
Penny Glasgow, chief deputy clerk, who attended the meeting alongside numerous members of the court clerk staff, used the public comment period of the meeting to throw her support behind Niles and fire back at Commissioners Van Shaver and Kelly Littleton-Brewster, who suggested during a workshop last month that employees were languishing financially during the litigation process as Niles continued to draw salary increases from the state.
“I want to be here tonight to publicly convey to each and every one of you we back Lisa Niles. She does not hold anything over us,” Glasgow told commission, referencing a comment Shaver made last month.
“The facts are very simple,” Glasgow said. “Commission didn’t research before making derogatory comments that the clerk got her state-mandated raise and her employees got nothing. Mrs. Brewster — and I’m sorry she’s not hear — if she would have checked her records she would have found out that the clerk gets a raise when the governor’s budget passes, and that’s for all elected state officials, not just our clerk.”
Glasgow said that in years past, court clerk employees have received raises, while the governor’s office did not pass along an increase to county court clerks like Niles.
“Is that fair to her to not get a raise? I don’t think so,” Glasgow said, noting that she was speaking on behalf of 100 percent of court clerk employees in Niles’ office.
During the meeting in July, Shaver said he agreed with passing along a 2 percent raise to court clerk employees based on “principle” and the message it would send to county employees.
“It’s the principle of the thing that Lisa’s been able to hold this over us and hold this over them, so were going to at least eliminate part of this extortion she’s got on us by giving her employees their raises,” he said last month. “I hope we can. I’m certainly going to support this.”
Glasgow said in the meeting that the lawsuit could have been cleared up years ago, thus saving thousands of dollars in legal fees.
“I can say that I’m a little disappointed in the most of you because you’re being led by one man to make decisions on your behalf,” she said. “The bottom line is that the pending litigation would have been settled a long time ago if commission would have just took the advice of their own attorney for a compromise.”
“… It’s just the principal of it, right Van?” Glasgow said.
Later in the agenda, commission approved the cost-of-living raises for court clerk employees by a vote of 9-0, with no discussion. Shaver motioned, and Commissioner Henry Cullen seconded.
In other business, commission:
• Approved appointments to 18 county boards, including audit, budget, capital projects and purchasing.
• OK’d donating a surplus portable classroom to the Claiborne County school system, with the understanding that the district is responsible for removal costs. Loudon County Purchasing Director Susan Huskey said removing the portable unit would have cost the county about $5,000.
• Accepted a Tennessee Department of Transportation grant for $636,000 for resurfacing Buttermilk Road, with a required matching allocation coming from the highway department fund.
• Approved two Pettway grants, including $3,000 for Lenoir City Public Library and $10,000 for Loudon Public Library.
• Approved an annual grant of $46,602 from the East Tennessee Human Resource Agency to defray operation expenses at Loudon County Senior Center.