Planning Commission awards Director Schuettler $14,466 bonus

A letter to Finance Director Brad Burke has revealed the Planning Commission recently approved Planning and Zoning Director Chris Schuettler an end-of-fiscal-year bonus of $14,466.67.

The letter, written by Planning Chairman Jerry Pearman on July 12, said the bonus is in compensation for Schuettler’s extra efforts towards economic director and project manager duties.

“Please be advised that the Carter County Planning Commission requests from line items 189 and 162 a bonus check to Director Schuettler. The amount is $14,466.67 to be relieved out of the 2018-2019 budget,” the letter reads. “This request comes after talking to the county attorney, Mr. Hardin, who states the previous request for a line item amendment was not necessary due to the fact that the said monies are coming out of payroll line items.”

Because this was not a line item amendment, the bonus did not need to clear the Budget Committee nor the full commission, and the payment was processed August 2, 10 days before the following Budget Committee meeting on August 12.

Burke said while such bonuses are uncommon, they are not unheard of.

“It has happened before,” Burke said.

This same amount was featured in a similar letter Planning sent the Budget Committee during its July 8 meeting. The committee ultimately rejected both the initial request and a compromise of $7,000 due to a lack of documentation of the hours Schuettler actually worked as economic developer and project manager.

Schuettler told the Star the number comes from a percentage of the permits and improvements he worked towards during the 10 months he performed those duties.

“The county needed someone to fix it, I did, and the county was supposed to reimburse me,” Schuettler said.

He said a prior meeting with Carter County Mayor Russell Barnett gave birth to an agreement of reimbursement for these additional duties, especially since Schuettler’s employees worked to receive extra certification in order to perform them.

“We initially agreed on $67,500 a year, but I said $65,000,” he said.

This $65,000 appeared in Planning’s first budget proposal at the end of May, which was the first of four proposals commissioners rejected over the course of several months, ultimately ending with the commission giving them last year’s budget plus the standard 3.5 percent pay increase for all employees.

“Our budget has been screwed since the July meeting,” he said. “The commission did not want to honor the agreement.”

Schuettler said the disagreements and debates about the situation are going to negatively affect Carter County’s development in the long run.

“I hate that Carter County is going to suffer for this,” he said.

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