Carter Committee once again divided over project manager

John Thompson • Aug 13, 2019 at 7:35 PM

ELIZABETHTON —With more than $2 million in construction projects ready to go in Carter County, most members of the Carter County Commission would agree that a construction project manager would be a good part time-position to fill. But that is all the commissioners can ever agree on, as the matter once again disrupted a meeting of the commission’s Budget Committee on Monday night.

Commissioners point to some alleged defects in the construction of the Carter County Jail a few years ago and to the recent construction of the Carter County Animal Shelter as examples of how some things can go wrong if there is no construction project manager on the scene to keep an eye on the county’s interests.

But the County Commission and the Budget Committee are sharply divided when it comes to making a selection to the post. Planning Director Chris Schuettler had been appointed to the additional duty as project manager, but he stepped down when the Budget Committee rejected his request for additional compensation for the additional work.

The debate surfaced several more times during the discussions over setting the budget for fiscal year 2019-20. It came up once again on Monday night, when County Commissioner Brad Johnson argued for keeping the project manager in the Planning Commission, especially with qualified building code enforcement personnel.

Johnson is not a member of the Budget Commission, but was attending the monthly meeting as an observer, along with several other county commissioners. Johnson is chairman of the Board of Zoning Appeals.

Johnson made his comments as he was responding to a discussion in the Budget Committee to take applications and select a part-time project manager. Johnson asked why the county should select someone who was not a county employee to do the job that several county employees are qualified to do. Johnson noted these part-time workers would also be paid more than the county employees.

Several committee members argued the Planning Department employees, especially Schuettler, already had a lot to do and this extra work would be too much.

Toward the end of the lengthy discussion, Budget Committee Chairman Ross Garland had strong words for committee members. 

“Nobody has compromised,” Garland said. “There has been no negotiation.”

The committee finally voted to recommend funding $4,170 for a part-time construction project manager position to continue to Dec. 31.

Those funds would come from the fund balance, which the Budget Committee learned will be supplemented by an additional $183,409.66 in unclaimed funds from the state.

The committee also reviewed and approved a state aid replacement project for a new bridge on Big Sandy Road across Stoney Creek at a cost of $341,740.11.