Two New Departments in One - Year!
By: Pat Hunter
Every year officials from various departments, offices and agencies submit funding requests to Loudon County government. The budget requests must first go before the Loudon County Budget Committee for their review and vote. Then the budget recommendations go to the full commission for a vote. The Budget Committee is comprised of Mayor Doyle Arp, Budget Chairman and Commissioners Don Miller, Bob Franke, Nancy Marcus, and Chris Park.
The Mayor's pricey renovations also included two new offices and furniture, one for the IT (information technology) department and new Personnel department.
This year, the County IT Director requested and received the tentative green light by the Budget Committee to hire another person, a part-time person to the tune of $18,000. Another expense has increased over 55% (est.) in one-year. Last year's data processing budget was $16,720. This year's proposed budget for the same line item is $26,600. Next step, commissioners must approve the funding requests of the various county offices.
Last year, the Budget Committee decided to severe all ties with the School Board IT Department and to hire their very own IT person. One year later, the IT budget is growing again. In past years, the County shared the services of Jill Pierce, former IT Director for the Loudon County Board of Education (BOE). Ms. Pierce and technicians were available to the County for their IT needs. The County and BOE had an agreement to pay Ms. Pierce and her technicians to provide these services. But when she requested additional monies her request was turned down. The Budget Committee felt that for the additional money that they would pay her, the County could start their very own IT Department
The IT Director for the Loudon County Board of Education (BOE) also requested an additional person but his request has been tentatively axed by the School Board. Now the poor taxpayers must fund two IT departments, one for county government and another for county schools, instead of pooling resources and taxpayer monies.
New Personnel Department
Last year, Mayor Arp moved the employee benefits clerk from the Finance Office- Budgets and Accounts Office to the supervision of his office. The Mayor's budget then showed an increase of one one secretary in addition to his administrative assistant. Now the Mayor has decided to create a brand new department called the Personnel Office and it appears that the employee benefits clerk is now in charge of the newly created department. This year's Mayor's Budget shows a large decrease in expenditures and that's the reason why. The new budget for the Employee Benefits Administrator is $36,047 plus benefits. The total budget request for the new department is $55,742.
As local government grows, more tax revenues will be needed and education competes for the very same tax revenues while it seems that every penny spent on schools must be justified.
Several years ago, Commissioners openly discussed creating a Personnel & Human Resource Office because of employment complaints and state and federal laws and issues. But when commissioners started discussions about specific qualifications and duties for an HRO those discussions very quietly went away. All issues related to employment were handled by the Finance Director Office until Mayor Arp decided otherwise and the Budget Committee agreed to recommend additional funding. The full county commission must approve a new department that will likely grow in years to come.