Clinton city officials acknowledged in recent written communications with one another that paperwork current Mayor Scott Burton filed for building permits went missing for reasons they didn’t know at the time.
The Tennessee Star obtained these letters (embedded below) through an open records’ request it filed this week.
As reported, scuttlebutt around town says Burton skipped out on paying various building permit fees, which is against the law.
Two weeks ago, rumors of this made their way onto a mayoral debate on radio station WYSH between Burton and his opponent Stephen McNally.
At the heart of the matter are four missing building permits Burton didn’t originally apply for on heating and air units — because he thought they weren’t legally necessary, according to the debate.
But WYSH radio personality Jim Harris told The Star he found out later permits are indeed required.
Harris also learned Burton, or one of his representatives, after the debate, obtained and paid for years-old permits on the four projects, indicating they were originally improperly obtained, according to WYSH.
Becker has since paid a late penalty on that, said Chief of Police Vaughn Becker.
The penalty is double the original permit fee, he added.
Becker told The Star Monday this situation is “a bunch of nothing.”
Also at issue is one missing building permit application Burton filled out but never followed up on or paid for, Becker told The Star.
“When someone comes and files an application for a building permit sometimes they don’t get it right then. They fill out the application and then they come back at a later point and pay for it and get the permit. We are talking about the applications,” Becker said.
“As a courtesy, codes (department officials) actually leaves them in the office. If they come back in a few months they (the applicants) don’t have to do the paperwork again.”
In some cases, Becker went on to say, applicants don’t come back because they never follow up on the project.
“They have these permit applications, and I talked to Curtis,” Becker said of Clinton Building Official Curtis Perez.
“He (Perez) did find one from the mayor that was just an application that was not a permit that was not paid for.”
Burton did not return The Star’s repeated requests for comment Tuesday.
Clinton is in Anderson County, near Oak Ridge.
Perez, in an Oct. 16 letter to City Manager Roger Houck and Becker, said “it is very disturbing to me” that this is now an issue in the mayor’s race.
“The fact that our office has documents missing is the most disturbing considering we are supposed to be in a secure area restricting public access,” Perez wrote.
In a written response to Perez, Becker said the following:
“If Mr. Burton did fill out any other applications I believe that the document may have been already discarded due to the age of them.”
Becker told The Star he doesn’t suspect the mayor or anyone else of any nefarious behavior.
“I just think there are applications that weren’t picked up, and at some point they were gotten rid of or purged,” Becker said.
City Manager Roger Houck, to whom the October 16 memorandum was directed and recounted an October 15 conversation, told The Tennesseee Star on October 19 in a story published on October 23 that all he knew about the permit issue was what he heard at the October 12 debate.
Read the letters:butler__clinton-FOIA-docs
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