Board approves contracts to provide planner services to four other towns

By Bill Short


The Oakland Board of Mayor and Aldermen has unanimously approved contracts to provide planner services to four other municipalities in the West Tennessee area.

Board members took the action during their July 19 regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman John Evans and seconded by Alderman Karl Chambless.

Mayor Scott Ferguson recalled that, in previous years, the state provided the Department of Economic and Community Development’s West Tennessee Local Planning Assistance Office in Jackson that many municipalities used.

“That department was basically relinquished,” he noted. “We allow our city planner to be used by other municipalities and, thus, we enter into contracts with them.”

City Planner Chris Pate said the municipalities contribute approximately $31,000 to Oakland’s budget. Mason, Newbern and Selmer have approved the contracts, he said, while LaGrange is still working on a month-to-month basis.

“That town is essentially reviewing its zoning ordinance,” he noted. “And when it finishes that, it might consider a contractual agreement for four meetings a year and administrative assistance.”

Although he submitted the contract to Halls, Pate said that town had not yet reviewed it or responded to his inquiry about its status.

Alderman Chuck Wombough has noted that the contracts list different amounts that Oakland is charging the municipalities, such as $5,250, $6,750 and $7,250. With the exception of LaGrange, Pate said, they are based on what the communities either paid or were willing to pay the Local Planning Assistance Office, as determined by a “population formula” used by the state.

“I have not increased those rates,” he said. “I did modify the LaGrange contract, with the understanding that I wouldn’t be as available to it as I would to other communities.”

Asked if he is spending approximately 10 “working days” each month in five municipalities, Pate has said it really works out to about half a day in each community. And then, their meetings are at night.

He has said he travels to each municipality for a 10 a.m. meeting on the day its agenda is prepared. Pate offers any necessary assistance, picks up items for review and does a “write-up.” That consumes approximately one day, and then traveling to the monthly board meeting takes about half a day.

“So, it’s contracted for two days,” he has noted. “And over the month, if I get several calls from them and have to do additional research or administrative memos, it averages about two working days in total per month.”

Pate has asked whether the Oakland board wants him to keep a record of “billable” hours for the other municipalities. Wombough has requested that he report to Ferguson how much time he is spending in each community.