Budget Notes & Highlights
It's Budget Time -The Budget Process Continues
By: Pat Hunter
May 4, 2009
The Budget Committee will meet May 4th, Monday at 1:00 PM at the County Office Building. This is about the 3rd meeting so far and the Budget Committee has yet to address what percentage pay raise they will recommend for county employees. Loudon County taxpayers pay about 91 percent of an employees insurance. That has been a thorny subject for Commissioner Nancy Marcus who wanted employees to pay their fare share last year but has remained pretty quiet this year. Marcus is not on the Budget Committee this year.
The Budget Committee makes recommendations to the full commission for their consideration and vote. The Budget Committee has discussed numerous departments and their respective budgets.
Planner Russ Newman went before the Budget Committee about his budget and so did Codes Enforcement Director Bill Cox to answer questions about their respective budgets. Even though permits and revenue are down, Cox has made few cuts to his budget and he wants to retain all of his personnel. The codes enforcement vehicles are now parked and personnel are not allowed to drive them back and forth to home in Knox and Anderson counties. The cost of fuel decreased from $1200 to about $150, monthly, according to the Budget Chair.
At Monday's Loudon County Commission, commissioners will discuss the Planning Department and Building Codes Department. Mayor Arp is asking for direction from Commission about the fate of the Planning Department since Lenoir City gave Planner Newman the boot effective July 1, 2009. Currently the Planning Dept. is under the jurisdiction of the Executive Planning Council and the Dept. shares office space with the EDA. Both offices are located at the Blair House in the Blairbend Industrial Park. Commissioners have several options including:
- Planning Department would fall under the County Mayor Arp and be located in the Annex. Combine the Planning Dept. and Codes Enforcement dept.
- A letter was passed out to Budget Committee members about Tennessee State Planning Department, which offers planning services to communities within the state for a fraction of the cost. Our neighbor Monroe County has a state planner. Monroe County is about the same size in population and physically bigger than little Loudon County. The cost for Loudon County would be about $11,000. Pat Phillips was a state planner and Loudon County paid for his services before a planning department was created in Loudon County. Many years ago, Loudon County paid very little for state planning services compared to funding an entire department expenditures, personnel and benefits.
The Budget Committee must still address funding the school building plan. As the budget process continues, expect more updates as the Budget Committee approves more recommendations for Commission's future consideration.