Bonuses and commission size up for discussion during Rules and Bylaws

Among the business the Rules and Bylaws Committee brought to the table Tuesday evening was a continuation of the ongoing discussion surrounding Planning Director Chris Schuettler and the letter sent to the Finance Department requesting a bonus of $14,466.67.

Commissioner Mike Hill said he wants there to be an effort to establish a clear policy on matters like this in the future, starting with a look through documentation on potential similar scenarios over the past 10 years.

“This gets you through several administrations,” Hill said. “Instead of quoting the rule book at each other, I do think we need to look at the shoulders we are standing on and how a bonus was identified and justified.”

The discussion comes after months of back-and-forth between Planning and the full Commission during the budget season and repeated conversations about working to reclaim funds Mark Blevins has said were not correctly awarded according to state law.

Hill said his request to look into the records is not a targeted attack, but rather to hopefully prevent something like this from happening again.

Brad Johnson said nowhere in the minutes of any 2019 Planning meeting was there a discussion or vote for such a letter to be sent to Finance, so the conversation shifted to whether Schuettler himself has the authority to do that without Planning’s approval.

Opinions were mixed.

“There is no doubt in my mind Chris could have given himself a bonus,” chairman Randall Jenkins said. “What I was p—– off about was the chairman of that committee writing that letter that was not needed which reflects me, who sits on that committee.”

Johnson said the lack of any official documentation from Planning beyond the letter could have legal ramifications.

“A chair has no authority,” Johnson said. “They can do no more than any other commissioner.”

Conversation also continued about a potential reduction in commission size, from three commissioners per district to two, reducing the overall size from 24 to 16.

“I think we all have constituents in our districts who have been asking us to consider a reduction in size,” Commissioner Robert Acuff said. “We should represent their wishes.”

Hill said this would be the appropriate time to do it.

Part of the logistical planning that would be needed, Jenkins said, would be representation in the various committees. Currently, one of each of the three commissioners in a district select which of three blocks they want to sit on. This mathematical simplicity would change when only two commissioners represent a district, and though Jenkins shared some potential ideas, they are still very much in development.

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