Planning Commission director asks Lenoir City leaders for payment
Tammy Cheek News herald
Lenoir City Council members voted unanimously to authorize paying $10,600 to the Loudon County Planning Commission in installments Monday night. 

The city’s agreement with the Planning Commission obligates them to pay the money, though it has typically been paid in June.  

Russ Newman, county planning director, requested the money be paid earlier because of the office’s “current revenue situation,” in a letter to the Lenoir City Council.

Bobby Johnson Sr. made the motion, seconded by Council member Douglas “Buddy” Hines, the city pay for January through March and then let the office bill the city each additional month. That would be $5,300 now for the third quarter then the remainder paid month by month through the fourth quarter, ending in June. 

“I hate to pay somebody who hasn’t done the work yet,” Johnson Sr. added. “I think that’s fair. We’re paying what we owe him.”

In a memo from Newman, he explained, “We have recently contracted with Fort Loudoun Lake Association, a non-profit organization, to begin identifying and mapping storm water outfalls in Lenoir City.

“The project is one of the required components of the city’s storm water program,” Newman wrote. “As a result, we need the city to remit funding currently budgeted for the program. The budget amount is $12,500. 

“Additionally, due to our current revenue situation, we need the city to remit the balance of the planning office program funds for the year as soon as possible,” the planner said. “The amount is $10,600. Please remit all funds to the Loudon County Finance Department.”

City Administrator Dale Hurst explained Newman’s office is asking to pay the remainder of the appropriated monies to his office. 

“As you know the office is funded $21,200 a year,” Hurst said. “The city has remitted one half of that amount, representing July through December. We’re almost in fourth quarter now, and he’s asking for consideration of remitting the remaining amount of $10,600 (for this fiscal year). “The finance committee didn’t have a specific recommendation,” Hurst added. “It’s my understanding, the City of Loudon has forwarded theirs in full, and Loudoun County has forwarded theirs in full,” Hurst said. “And, as the memo indicated, he (Newman) said he is having some revenue situation — I presume that’s a problem — and he’s asking for it to be remitted.”

Members of the council expressed that they owe for Jan. through March, and asked if the commission could be paid for the third quarter now, and then be paid monthly through June when the payment is normally made, which Hurst said was possible.

The three months would come to half of the requested amount.  

Mayor Matt Brookshire asked why the city leaders would want to refrain from paying Newman’s office at this time.  

“Well, we don’t have the service of the work for the last three months,” Johnson Sr. replied. “How do we know we are going to get it? Loudon paid off. How do they know they are going to get the service out of it? Of course, I don’t think Russ would do anything,” he quickly added. 

Lenoir City has hired a Codes Enforcement Officer to take over the duties of the Loudon County Planning Commission. Leslie Johnson has already started working in that capacity even though the city’s agreement with Newman’s office doesn’t expire until June.

“We have an agreement with him for that service for that fiscal year,” Brookshire said. “They’re obligated. Not only are we obligated to get the money to them at some point — whether we do it at the end or not — but they are obligated to provide the service.”

“Personally, in working with Russ over the past 10 or 12 years, I have every confidence Russ Newman’s going to fulfill,” Hurst said.

“Now, there’s an additional note I’m going to bring to your attention, Mr. Newman is going to be asking for some additional monies,” he said. That would be this fiscal year, Hurst added. “We got that figure Friday,” he said. “That has not been appropriated yet.” 

Johnson Sr. asked why is Newman asking for additional funds. 

“He is looking for some savings,” Hurst said. “He thinks he’s going to come in a little shy there, so he’s asking for an additional $20,000. Again, this is going to be requested in the very near future.” 

The $10,600 obligation was already in the budget, Brookshire said. 

Hurst noted during a recent council workshop, Newman was asked if he would need additional money, at that time Newman said he didn’t know.