Loudon City Council approved Monday a resolution to amend the pay scale of the new city planning services team.
The pay scale amendment will cost the city $17,500, which is less than the $25,000 budgeted for planning services from the county. The amendment gives each member of the team — Brooke Millsaps, Travis Gray, Nicole Curtis and Ty Ross — a 5 percent pay raise.
Councilwoman Tammi Bivens during the August workshop requested a breakdown of duties since the raise would translate to different amounts for each employee.
Bivens on Monday suggested moving the pay raises to next year’s budget and using the $25,000 to provide the team of planners with a supplemental planning service in the meantime.
“One thing that I would like to say is I’m not saying that I don’t think that you know people aren’t going to be doing their jobs or anything like that, but I think these first few months especially, we may be in need of the East Tennessee Planning Services, and that $25,000 would go a long way with that,” Bivens said. “That being said, I think when our new budget comes out next year, that could be something we could look at then as doing a raise on those employees.”
Councilman Tim Dixon said that would be too long for employees to wait given the amount of duties they are taking on.
Loudon Mayor Jeff Harris agreed.
“And another way to look at it is the city is still saving money … for the same services from the county,” Harris said. “I guess it was Councilman (Tim) Brewster that mentioned something about the (Loudon Utilities Board) splitting that with us, and in discussions with chairman Campbell … I think their viewpoint is the city’s been paying this the whole time and not asked for the utility to share that $25,000 we spent, so what’s changed now? It’s still under that amount that we budgeted.”
Brewster said he doesn’t see how the city can vote to authorize a pay raise on a utility salary.
“We can do it on our side of the salary, what we pay toward those, but I don’t see that we even have the authority to say, ‘OK, we’re gonna give a raise on that $100,000 the utility pays him.’ I don’t even know we can do that,” Brewster said.
LUB will be involved with planning services, so they should pay their part, Brewster said.
Planning services are a function offered through the city of Loudon, Dixon said.
“The part where it touches the utilities is more like a handoff that’s always implicit, but keeping up with the documentation and managing the ordinances, keeping the forms and information available to the public for any questions they have,” Curtis said. “I had a lady come by today, and she had a question about — actually a codes enforcement question — but she didn’t know what her question was. We sat down, and we had a conversation, and I was able to sort out what she was really asking and get her in the right direction. That is a city service to a city resident. It did not interact on the utility side. … This is about managing the records of the city and the land in the city limits.”
Harris suggested passing the resolution and approaching LUB later.
“If they don’t (agree), we still need to compensate (the employees),” Harris said. “I feel like it’s our responsibility. We’re taking the planning services on in the city, so it’s mainly our responsibility to compensate them.”
Dixon and Bivens motioned and seconded, respectively, for the amended pay scale, which passed 3-2. Brewster and Councilman Johnny James opposed.
In other news, Loudon City Council:
• Accepted a fuel bid from Rogers Petroleum Inc.
• Approved amendments to the 2019-20 fiscal year budget.
• Approved the provision of planning support services by the city.
• Approved on first reading amendments to the 2020-21 fiscal year budget.
• Approved the lease purchase of a 2021 Pierce Arrow XT Pumper firetruck from Pierce Manufacturing.
• Established a development fee schedule for planning and zoning services.
• Authorized a feasibility study for a new parking lot downtown.