Lenoir City’s Finances and Cash Flow Issues discussed
By: Pat Hunter
September 30, 2008
An issue for additional personnel came before the Personnel Committee at Monday's (Sept. 29th) meeting. New Codes Enforcement officer Leslie Johnson requested consideration of support staff for the codes enforcement office. So far she has been working, a one woman’s show and she requires additional staffing needs to answer the phone and someone that has knowledge of codes enforcement who can answer questions or concerns. When contractors call with codes questions, she would like for someone to address those concerns, rather than wait. She does not have extra time to train someone so finding someone that is experienced is important to her. Johnson has to split her duties between answering the office phone and being out in the field.
Codes Officer Johnson gave a brief report on building, there are 16 commercial projects underway, two of which, are minor renovations. Thirty-two (32) are residential permits and four (4) of those are existing houses that are being remodeled. A lot of development is going on and more is expected because of the Town Creek development, Johnson said.
As of today, as far as revenues are concerned $23,494 as been collected in permit fees and $50,000 was budgeted in revenues so Johnson felt her department was on target. She felt that a situation had come up to where a part-time position is available. The finance office is less one part-time employee. The amount of $21,082.88 was budgeted in the finance office but additional funds would still be needed for a full time experienced codes position.
Councilman Buddy Hines asked what about the $17,000, can we do anything with that? Hines was referring to the $17K intended for the planning office budget. Bobby Johnson, Sr. agreed but the Mayor said that he did not support that suggestion.
Codes Officer commented that she needed additional help not only for new development but because she is also responsible for Municipal Codes Enforcement, not just overgrown grass but dilapidated buildings because of high rental properties. She would not need a car but she needs an experienced codes enforcement person. She suggesting the starting pay to be about $35,000 but with benefits the total expenditure would be closer to $50,000.
Councilman Mike Henline asked if anyone was listening to the news because of the seriousness of our nation’s economic woes. He suggested putting this off for a while to see what kind of revenue the city would be getting from the state. He mentioned that all budgets may have to be reviewed. Mayor Brookshire favored additional staffing for the codes enforcement office but the hang up was the money “funding.” Codes Officer Johnson has someone in mind but the mayor would not divulge the person’s name in public.
The Budget Committee recommended waiting until midway though the year (January 2009) to look at funding and numbers to see if there was enough growth there, Brookshire said. Attorney Shannon Littleton mentioned that he works closely with the codes officer on issues almost every other day so he sees a need for additional staffing.
Can we afford it, Councilman Henline asked? Simpson wanted to know the pay scale of a city clerk; Recorder/Treasurer pro tempore Maggie Hunt replied about $35,000. Councilman Simpson calculated that to be about $18 per hour est.
Revenues and expenditures would have to be looked at and officials concluded that they would have to look at the big financial picture.
Because of the city’s cash flow, there is no surplus at this time. Revenues are expected as property taxes start to come in.
Video clip The Mayor supported adding another person to the Codes Office budget but because the City was in “dire straights” this was not done. He did not blame anyone but “we” (City) did balance (budget), was the jest of the discussion.
Council members requested that Mayor Brookshire look into the city’s finances and report back since the first quarter of the fiscal year was about to close. Codes Officer Leslie Johnson's request for an additional person, is on hold for the time being.