Repayment for TDEC engineer aide discussed
by BRIAN GRAVES Banner Staff Writer
Aug 12, 2014 | 775 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print

The Bradley County Commission may be asking the state for reimbursement of the extra pay being given to a county planning assistant in order to help the local TDEC engineer expedite the septic tank permit process.

Some commissioners believe it might even profit the county to just do it itself.

Theresa Vineyard, who currently works in the county planning department, is getting a $4,000 per year raise in the plan which is currently running as a 90-day trial to test its effectiveness.

Commissioner Bill Winters, who sits on the Commission’s ad hoc committee on the subject, has reported in a previous meeting state officials told him there were no funds available to increase the staff on the state’s end.

Commissioner Ed Elkins took exception to the state’s claim Monday during the County Commission work session.

Elkins said the overall revenue that has been generated by the TDEC department in question was $106,410 for the fiscal year 2013-14.

The Health Department, by law, receives 8 percent of that amount reducing the total by $8,513.

“We also got information that Bradley County is the busiest county in the state,” Elkins said. “The next highest county is Rutherford County, and they had 40 less permits in that same period.”

He also said the cost to staff the office with one employee, including benefits, is $66,713.

“The amount of revenue is exceeding the cost of that one full-time person,” Elkins said. “Initially it looks like, based on the amount of activity we have now, it would be pretty close to a break even.”

“I think the revenue the state is generating from this is exceeding their costs,” he said.

He noted the engineer spends one day a week in Polk County.

He recommended the county approach the state “with all these facts and figures” and request the state increase the amount of money to provide the extra help.

“My position is, since Bradley County is making no revenue off of this, we shouldn’t have to pay this extra money to provide this service that comes from the state,” Elkins said.

Elkins is going to draft a resolution for consideration at next week’s voting session.

“If you don’t ask, they’re not going to volunteer,” he said. “Requesting it, they have to reply to it.”

Commissioner Jeff Yarber said if the state is bringing in the money Elkins reported, “then we’re helping offset costs in another county.”

“Bingo,” Elkins replied.

Commissioner Terry Caywood said that whether or not the state does come through with additional money, “until we find out [if the extra help] makes a difference, it is still status quo, and we’re getting the same service we’ve always gotten. I don’t care if they reimburse us or not, we’re no better off than we were when we started.

“I still say the proof is in the pudding and I want to see [an improvement] happen,” Caywood said.

He added if the county took the responsibility, that person would only work in Bradley County “and would be responsible to this Commission.”

“The state doesn’t seem to care. They haven’t changed anything in 15 years,” Caywood said.