County mulls staff changes, litigation tax

Jeremy Nash

County Clerk Darlene Russell came before commission Monday asking for employees to swap full- and part-time positions and for another employee to go from part time to full time.

Adding the full-time position would require $6,000 more salary in next year’s budget. The employee would not require medical coverage.

When Commission Chairman Steve Harrelson asked why Russell needed the additional full-time employee now instead of waiting for the next fiscal year, she said, “We’re just so busy.

“I mean it’s just more than we can handle,” Russell said.

Russell may also need an additional full-time employee in the future to help with driver’s license renewals. She said the state planned to visit her office Monday to get started on the new service. No timeline has been set on when it will be offered to the public.

“We’ve got an opportunity in what I think is the busiest office in our county to pick up — it’s going to be a wash on one, but ... for $6,000 we’re going to have the opportunity to create that full-time spot, eliminate one of our part-time spots and it’s just at $6,000 that’s a steal,” Mayor Rollen “Buddy” Bradshaw said. “... I think this is an outstanding opportunity for us to — and I know the lawsuit’s still out there and it has been for three years now.
“Is the timing perfect? No, but I think this is a great opportunity for us to help one of our busiest offices, if not the busiest office, in the county,” he added.
Commissioner Van Shaver motioned for Russell’s request be deferred to the budget committee for 2017-18 budget consideration. Commissioner Matthew Tinker seconded Shaver’s request. The vote passed 7-2, with Commissioners Leo Bradshaw and Bill Satterfield opposing. Commissioner Earlena Maples was absent.
“Swapping ships in the middle of the budget cycle is just kind of what we shouldn’t do even if it doesn’t take new money, whatever, we know it will be at the end of this (year),” Shaver said. “Currently, no insurance is needed but there’s no guarantee that that couldn’t change a short while later. That could add another anywhere from $8,000-$14,000 to the cost. I would like to see the budget committee incorporate that discussion, and maybe even the driver’s license discussion, in the ‘17-’18 budget process.”
Harrelson said he was in favor of holding off until the next fiscal year.
“She does have a very busy office,” Harrelson said. “I mean anytime you come in here they’re just stacked up waiting in line to take care of their business. But I also have been a proponent of we’ve got a budget set for this year. Any changes in staff and considerations for changes in staff for any department I think ought to be dealt with during the budget process, which should start soon.”

Litigation tax on hold

Commission decided to take a litigation tax resolution off the agenda until local state legislators could get better clarification on wording from a bill that could potentially allow the county to add $50 more to court fees. The resolution would have been sent to the state legislature to get the county’s name on a bill.
Ninth Judicial District Attorney General Russell Johnson at last month’s workshop said the resolution was just a way to get on the bill and that an additional vote with two-thirds majority would need to take place at a later date to actually approve the litigation tax.
“There was a little bit of conflict on whether the first vote not only included us on the bill but is also when it gets passing instituted in Loudon County,” Buddy Bradshaw said in a follow-up interview. “It’s supposed to be two separate votes and there was some questions on the language. The language didn’t match up 100 percent, so when I talked to Rep. (Jimmy) Matlock and he asked if we’d mind putting it on pause just for until the next commission meeting and I was fine with that.”
He said state Sen. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, also wanted to get more clarification on the wording.
“They’ll go ahead and do a caption bill, so we’ll go ahead and be in good shape as far as being able to address it next month and still get it to the state legislators again,” Harrelson said in a follow-up interview.
Shaver asked for Michael Brady Inc., to attend this month’s workshop to discuss a jail addition.
In other news, Loudon County Commission:
• Approved no match grants for Loudon County Health Department.
• Agreed to present Greenback School for its football team’s success.
• Passed a $2,000 contribution from the County General Fund to East Tennessee Foundation to establish a community affiliate fund. Both municipalities in Loudon County have also contributed.
• Approved amendments in County General Fund, Public Libraries Fund, Highway Department Fund and Education Capital Projects Fund.
• Rezoned 5.18 acres on a property on Highway 411 South in Greenback from Rural Residential to General Commercial.