25k Request Planning

After pretty well breaking the bank, i.e. spending all the money of the Loudon County Planning department, it appears that funding Russ Newman may again be at the center of yet another controversy.

You will recall earlier this year, Lenoir City officials pulled out of the three way planning office opting rather to handle their own planning needs. At about the same time, it was discovered that the planning office under Newman's direction had run deeply into the red.

Loudon County Mayor Doyle Arp rewarded Newman's fiscal irresponsibility by bringing him on board as a county employee and making him the new director of not only county planning but also building and codes enforcement and kept him at his former salary of $67,000.00.

Now at the last county commission meeting, commissioners voted to request $25,000.00 from the city of Loudon for Newman to continue to perform planning services for the city of Loudon. Problem is at a recent Loudon City Council meeting, several council members balked at the idea of giving $25,000.00 for Newman's services. Loudon City Councilman, Gene Lambert said. "I don't think we should pay that extra money. Maybe $1,000 or $2,000 more, but not $25,000."

Loudon has been paying around $12,000.00 annually for planning services and according to the story below they don't intend to pay much more. Time will tell.

City of Loudon leaders look to resolve planning services issue
Vicky Newman News Herald
Many questions remain unanswered as the city of Loudon looks toward a new fiscal year. Who will accept site plans and bring recommendations to the Planning and Zoning Commission? Who will ensure construction projects meet the necessary requirements?

Instead of scrambling to establish an in-house planning office, or contracting with the state of Tennessee for planning services, the City of Loudon may seek to contract with Loudon County for continued planning services.

The necessity for a change came last year when Lenoir City leaders opted to discontinue planning services that had been established by an interlocal agreement between the city, Loudon County and the City of Loudon. Lenoir City Council's move left the future of the regional planning office uncertain, and how the City of Loudon would procure planning services unclear. 

During early budget considerations, Lynn Mills, city manager, had suggested the city might be required to fund the regional office at a higher amount to continue receiving services. Loudon leaders were also looking into state planning services.

Now, the County Commission is moving to combine the Loudon County Planning Office and the Loudon County Codes Enforcement Office. The regional planning office will no longer exist.

In Monday's workshop meeting Mills told Loudon City Council members he had submitted a letter to Loudon County Mayor Doyle Arp requesting the County Commission consider the city of Loudon's continued use of the Planning Office's services.

Negotiations toward that possibility have not begun yet, and the matter likely will not be included on the agenda for action June 15. Mills said he'd simply begun making inquiries, to determine if the requested setup might be possible. "My feeling is that we are better served to continue to use Russ (Newman) and his staff. That keeps it local," Mills said.

Vice Mayor Eugene Lambert asked how much contracting with the county might cost. "The county said they would save $150,000 a year," Lambert said. "I think our payments should stay the same."

Mills replied city leaders and staff did not anticipate the cost would stay the same, but said he didn't think it would be at the $25,000 level. "They made Russ department head," Lambert said. "I don't think we should pay that extra money. Maybe $1,000 or $2,000 more, but not $25,000. He may be so busy with the new work he would not have time to do our work."

Councilman Lewis "Charlie Brown" Garner expressed concern regarding the quality of service the people of Loudon would get under this new setup.