Assistant Codes Enforcement Officer Hired!
Mayor Brookshire, Mike Henline (baseball cap), Eddie Simpson (baseball cap), Buddy Hines, Bobby Johnson, JR, Treasurer-Recorder (R)
Trouble in Paradise
Lenoir City Council votes for Assistant to Codes-Planner
By: Pat Hunter
December 26, 2008
Mayor Matt Brookshire wants Planner Newman but he's out voted...
'Twas 2- days before Christmas, Mayor Brookshire and Lenoir City Council met for less than 10 minutes in a Special Called meeting. The Personnel Committee chaired by Bobby Johnson, SR., recommend hiring Beth E. Collins to serve as assistant codes enforcement to Lenoir Codes Enforcement officer-Planner Leslie Johnson. Ms. Leslie Johnson, Lenoir Codes Enforcement officer will serve as Planner for Lenoir City. Ms. Johnson was formerly employed by Sweetwater City Codes Enforcement Officer. Sweetwater City hired her in 2003 and her background includes training as state planner and she has a master’s degree.
Lenoir City Mayor Matt Brookshire didn’t hold back his displeasure with the Personnel Committee and Council. Previously, at the Dec. 8th meeting, Council voted to end planning services with Planner Newman and the Loudon County Office of Planning and Development and to hire an assistant.
Mayor Brookshire quizzed the Personnel Committee consisting of Bobby Johnson, Sr., Mike Henline and Buddy Hines but only Johnson Sr., responded to Brookshire's questions. When did you advertise for the position, he asked? The position was advertised in early November for 2 weeks and 12 resumes were received according to Codes Enforcement Officer Leslie Johnson. Out of those twelve (12), how many were interviewed by the Personnel Committee inquired Mayor Brookshire. Chairman Bobby Johnson, SR., replied, we went over the applications as he slid the resumes on the table toward Mayor Brookshire. Councilman Johnson Sr. mentioned that this one (Collins) was more qualified and was ready to come in. Some applicants were from out of state but did not have the exact requirements. Some were local but were not qualified to serve at the time.
How many were interviewed and Johnson Sr. replied just one. Councilman Johnson Sr. maintained that as far as a complete package, this was the one, referring to Collins.
Mayor Brookshire did not support the hire even though it wouldn’t make a difference. But he requested that the record reflect that he thought $35,000 starting salary was too much to get this particular candidate instead of getting a candidate that would fit the City’s budget. It wasn’t about the individual, since he heard only praises about the candidate, Brookshire said.
Mayor Brookshire openly complained about the increase in benefits and cost of insurance after he was assured by Council that insurance cost would be decreased by 13 percent. But now the City faces an 8 percent increase or $72,000 per year. Treasurer-Recorder Bobby Johnson, JR., confirmed the current cost of insurance, which went from $66,000 to $72,000 per month. (Note: $66,000 monthly - $792,000 yearly; $77,000 monthly - $924,000 yearly.)
Council voted unanimously to hire Beth A. Collins, assistant to codes enforcement officer. Beth Collins was not present at Tuesday’s Special Called meeting. Beth Collin's start out salary will be $35,000 plus $16,083 in benefits. Lenoir City pays 100 percent of an employee’s health insurance while Sweetwater City does not. Collins would stay on for at least 2-weeks more and Leslie Johnson said that we would have to work with her on any loose ends that Collins may have with Sweetwater City. This was similar deal to what was done when Johnson came on board.
According to a Monroe County newspaper, after Leslie Johnson left her previous position as Sweetwater City Codes Enforcement, her long time assistant Beth Collins was selected as interim Sweetwater City codes enforcement officer. The starting salary was about $25,000 with a promise of higher pay.
VIP Christmas luncheon
After the Special Called meeting concluded, Lenoir City Councilmen were hanging out at Lenoir City Hall so they could attend a Christmas luncheon, which followed at the Lenoir City Police hall. Many cars were parked at the Lenoir City Police Dept., parking lot while others were racing on surface streets to get to the Christmas event.
Before the Special Called meeting was called to order, Council members exchanged small talk. Council members spoke to one another asking the whereabouts of Shannon Littleton, Lenoir City Attorney-LCUB Assistant manager but Littleton was a definite no-show. Was Littleton tending to his hair as some Council members thought?
Lenoir City Ends Planning Services
with Loudon County Office of Planning
Planner Russ Newman
Previously, at the Dec. 8th Lenoir City Council meeting, Council voted to end planning services with Planner Russ Newman and the Loudon County Office of Planning and Development and to hire an assistant for the Lenoir City Codes Enforcement Office.
Loudon County, Lenoir and Loudon cities had entered into an interlocal agreement for planning services, which extends through June 2009. Lenoir City's portion would be about $21,200, which is due on or about June 30, 2009 but Mayor Arp had written a letter asking for a partial payment since Newman's planning office is about to run out of money by January 2009 without an infusion of money.
The cost of an assistant to the Lenoir City Codes Enforcement office will be over $51,000 so Ms. Johnson can serve as Planner and Codes Enforcement Officer.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to do the math $51,000 > $21,200. From a taxpayer's perspective, a better solution is for each government entity Lenoir City, Loudon County and Loudon City to contract for State planning services. Many cities and counties contract for planning services on a need basis. Many years ago, Loudon County participated in this program and paid no more that $10,000 yearly, before establishing the office of planning. By participating with the state planners service, county and city taxpayers could save a tidy sum in personnel and benefits and yearly operating expenses.