Planning Or Poor Planning?

The ongoing building slump in Loudon County has claimed yet another victim. The Loudon County Office Of Planning has become the latest to feel the bite, being force to eliminate the assistant planner. At the Thursday meeting of the Executive Planning Council, the body that oversees the planning office, Director Of Planning, Russ Newman, informed the council that the shortfall of fees collected in the office has seriously reduced their revenues to the point of having to let the assistant go.

The The Loudon County Office Of Planning was created in 2001 by an interlocal agreement of Loudon County, Lenoir City and the city of Loudon. Each entity is required to provide funding of the office based on population with Loudon County paying $71,170.00, Lenoir City paying $17,170.00 and Loudon dropping $12,120.00. The $101,000.00 budget would be augmented with fees collected in the office when anyone makes application for planning office services.

For the last several years with all the construction and development taking place in our county, the planning office has had a lot of fee revenues coming in. Their budget has continue to grow with the revenues. The 2002 budget was approximately $130,000.00. The 2008 requested budget was nearly $221,000.00. This includes Newman's salary going from $54,600.00 to $67,234.00 over the same time period. 

While the money was rolling in Newman was spending away handing out raises for himself and even hiring himself  an assistant apparently not realizing that the boom time could go bust. Now the money has dried up and Newman is looking for the answer in higher fees. But if no one is using the planning services what good are higher fees. Ultimately this is heading for the tax payers to pony up to keep the planning department afloat.

Planning Director Russ Newman has been a disaster for Loudon County beating the average citizen to death with useless regulations and letting his pet developers get by with anything. This would be a great opportunity to cut the cord and let Newman slither off back to Knoxville where he lives. Or just let Lenoir City hire him. At the Thursday meeting, he told the Executive Planning Council that nearly all the work he is currently doing is for Lenoir City. So why should the county tax payer continue to pay the lion's share of the funding?

Loudon County has a much better option than wasting tens of thousands of dollars on Newman. The State Office Of Planning would handle all our planning needs once a month for far less than supporting Newman.

The Loudon County Planning web site touts that the planning office is "Planning For The 21st Century." Too bad Newman forgot to plan on how to pay his bills.