Four strikes, you’re out: Planning Commission budget fails one last time

Members of the Carter County Commission gathered Monday evening for a special called session, in order to hold one more vote on the Planning Commission’s proposed 2019/2020 budget. This is the fourth proposal Director Chris Schuettler has brought before Carter County Commission since the budget voting process began on May 16.

The overall budget request went down to $386,275.24, roughly $3,000 below their first request in May and about $15,000 less than last week’s budget.

Non-payroll items decreased their budget by roughly $15,000, while payroll items overall went up by about $38.

The motion failed with a 9-13 vote. Among those who voted in favor were Willie Campbell, Robert Acuff, Mike Hill, Bradley Johnson, Austin Jaynes, Ross Garland, Ginger Holdren, Sonja Culler and Kelly Collins. Those against were Mark Blevins, Nancy Brown, Patty Woodby, Ronnie Trivett, Charles von Cannon, Isaiah Grindstaff, Layla Ward, Randall Jenkins, Gary Bailey, Travis Hill, Ray Lyons, Aaron Frazier and David Miller. Jerry Proffitt and Robin McKamey were not present for the vote.

“I think it is just to be fair to all county employees,” Commissioner Travis Hill said. “They are not the only employees that deserve our money from this county. We have got employees here who are making 20 grand and have been here for 15 years […] To say one set of employees is more important than others is wrong.”

With four failed votes on the books, policy now dictated the full commission set the complete budget amount for the Planning Commission instead.

Woodby made a motion to give the Planning Commission the same budget they received last year, $342,602.04, in addition to the 3.5 percent pay increases for all county employees the commission already approved.

Mike Hill brought an amendment to officially remove the duties of economic development and/or project management duties from the Planning Commission.

County attorney Josh Hardin said rescinding a resolution the commission previously passed was beyond the scope of the meeting.

“Frankly, if you want to rescind a resolution that you already approved, it needs to be done in a regular called meeting and not this special meeting,” Hardin said.

Gary Bailey then proposed an additional $2,500 be added to the proposed budget for Planning, citing Schuettler’s work with the school system.

Hardin reminded the commission they cannot vote specific line items for county departments. Even when budget proposals have failed four times, the commission only has the authority to define the full budget amount for a given department. It is up to the department itself to decide where that money goes.

In the end, Woodby’s proposal still stood, and the commission voted in favor 13-9.

Those in favor of using last year’s budget plus the 3.5 percent pay increase were Willie Campbell, Mark Blevins, Nancy Brown, Patty Woodby, Charles von Cannon, Austin Jaynes, Layla Ward, Ginger Holdren, Gary Bailey, Travis Hill, Ray Lyons, Aaron Frazier and David Miller. Those voting against were Robert Acuff, Mike Hill, Bradley Johnson, Ronnie Trivett, Isaiah Grindstaff, Ross Garland, Randall Jenkins, Sonja Culler and Kelly Collins.

With the budget complete, it will now go to the full commission during their July meeting for one final vote before sending it off to the state.

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