Commission votes to reclaim $14,466.67 bonus from Planning Director

Published 9:20 am Thursday, August 22, 2019

In response to the Planning Commission’s move to award Director Chris Schuettler a $14,466.67 bonus at the beginning of August, Commissioner Mark Blevins made a motion Monday night to demand Schuettler return money Blevins claimed was wrongfully taken from taxpayers.

The motion passed 13-8. Those who voted in favor included Willie Campbell, Mark Blevins, Nancy Brown, Patty Woodby, Jerry Proffitt, Ross Garland, Layla Ward, Randall Jenkins, Gary Bailey, Travis Hill, Sonja Culler, Ray Lyons and David Miller.

Culler later said she meant to vote no, but procedure states a commissioner cannot change their vote once the result is revealed.

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Those who voted against taking back the money included Robert Acuff, Mike Hill, Bradley Johnson, Charles von Cannon, Ginger Holdren, Aaron Frazier, Robin McKinney and Kelly Collins.

Ronnie Trivette, Isaiah Grindstaff and Austin Jaynes were absent for the vote.

Blevins said Planning and the Finance Department did not follow correct, legal procedure in approving this bonus because it was taken out of two line items instead of just one, and said he contacted officials in Nashville Monday to confirm this.

“When I found out it came from two line items, that was when I contacted Nashville,” Blevins told the Star. “I thought it was a waste of taxpayer money and a slap in the face of the elected officials.”

Schuettler previously told the Star the number comes from a percentage of the renovations and projects he took on during his work as project manager and said he had a conversation with the mayor about receiving compensation for his work before he took on the duties.

Mayor Russell Barnett denied this during the commission meeting, saying no promise of payment was ever made between him and Schuettler.

“Schuettler is not allowed to have more than one job,” Blevins said. “He is on salary.”

In order to have worked two full-time jobs, he would have to document those hours separately, and those hours cannot overlap.

“If he has, he is in violation himself,” he said.

Blevins said he was unable to find any records of Schuettler’s additional hours when he accessed public records himself earlier this week.

“We are not planning on giving him the money,” Blevins said. “He can give it voluntarily or not.”