Offices Combined

At Monday's commission meeting, commissioners voted to combine the Office Of Planning and the Building Inspector/Codes Enforcement Office. Gross mismanagement of the planning office by planner Russ Newman caused the office to go broke so now under county mayor Doyle Arp's plan, Newman will be taking over both offices with no reduction in pay. Newman would keep his $67,000.00 annual pay.

Now that the planning office will no longer be doing planning for Lenoir City or Loudon, Newman's planning responsibilities will be reduced by 75%. Newman also is not certified in codes enforcement or building codes, yet Arp proposes to leave his pay as is. 

Some commissioners questioned the wisdom of Newman managing both offices given the failure of the planning office and also question his current pay scale. Commissioners voted to recommend to the budget committee to consider reducing Newman's pay to be comparable to other department heads which would be in the $50,000.00 range.

The budget committee is expected to return a recommendation on pay scales for Newman and other employees and which employees will be kept and which will be let go.    

County Commission votes to create Office of Planning and Codes Enforcement

Mary E. Hinds News Herald
The County Commission voted Monday to merge Planning and Community Development and the Loudon County Building Commissioner into one office the Office of Planning and Codes Enforcement.

The county has pursued combining the offices since the economic downturn has cut building and development across the country and since Lenoir City opted to leave the interlocal agreement for planning throughout the county. The combined office will have a reduced staff and will be headed by County Planner Russ Newman. Building Commissioner Bill Cox recently gave the county his resignation to be effective this fall. 

Monday night, Loudon County Mayor Doyle Arp said the budget committee informed the commission all fees collected by the new combined office would go to the county's general fund.

According to Commissioner Don Miller, the newly combined offices are set to be under the direct supervision of the mayor's office and that would help control costs.

Questioned were raised by Commissioners Austin Shaver and Earleana Maples as to why the director of the newly combined offices would be paid more than other department heads in the county.

Maples noted other department heads are paid approximately $52,000 a year, while the head of the newly combined office of planning and codes enforcement would be paid $67,200. "How do we justify the difference?" Maples asked. "Why is it (the salary) more than elected officials?" questioned Commissioner Nancy Marcus, referring to elected department heads, not other officials like county commissioners.

Maples moved to amend the motion to combine the offices by asking the county budget committee to review the salary for the head of the new department in an effort to make that salary more in line with the pay of other department heads.

Marcus agreed noting Purchasing Director Leo Bradshaw "has a lot of responsibilities" but he is paid less than the proposed salary for the head of the new combined department. "I think it (the salary) should be in line with other appointed officials and not more than elected officials," Marcus said.

Commissioner Don Miller noted that while the salary might not be settled, just combining the office would mean a savings of approximately $150,000 per year for the county.

The commission voted in favor of Maples' amendment to send the salary request for the head of the combined offices back to the county budget committee for review. Following that vote, the commission voted to officially consolidate the two offices.