County Commission to discuss changes to meeting time

Published 9:26 am Saturday, November 15, 2014

When the County Commission convenes Monday, several items will be up for discussion, including two proposals that could change how the governing body operates.
Members of the commission will have an opportunity to vote on a resolution setting the time of all of the group’s regular monthly meetings at 6 p.m. Currently, the meeting times rotate between a morning meeting at 9 a.m. one month and a 6 p.m. evening meeting the next.
The resolution comes following a motion generated by Commissioner John Lewis during the body’s October meeting to direct County Attorney Joshua Hardin to draft a resolution setting all regular meetings at 6 p.m. Lewis said his reasoning behind the motion was to make the meetings more accessible to individuals who work during the day.
The motion was seconded by Commissioner Nancy Brown and passed on a vote of 17-6. Those voting in favor of the motion were Brown, Mike Hill, Ronnie Trivett, Charles VonCannon, L.C. Tester, Isaiah Grindstaff, Danny Ward, Ross Garland, Timothy Holdren, Randall Jenkins, Larry “Doc” Miller, Lewis, Ray Lyons, Scott Simerly, Cody McQueen, Robert Carroll and Robert Gobble. Commissioners Buford Peters, Willie Campbell, Jerry Proffitt, Al Meehan, Bobbie Gouge-Dietz and Sonja Culler voted against changing the meeting time. Commissioner Beth Depew was absent from the meeting.
If the resolution is approved by the Commission, all regular meetings will be held at 6 p.m. on the third Monday of each month. The resolution would have no effect on the day or time for special called sessions of the County Commission.
Another item which could potentially come to a vote by the full commission would amend a rule passed earlier this year requiring multiple readings on all resolutions. During the September meeting of the group, commissioners voted 16-8 to require two readings on resolutions following an appeal by a citizen during the public comments portion of the meeting.
Lewis, who made the motion to change the number of readings, said he felt the commission needs to give more consideration to measures on which it votes. He also recommended, that before holding a final vote, the commission should meet with the county attorney to get an explanation of the resolution. His motion was seconded by Trivett.
Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey and Finance Director Ingrid Deloach cautioned the commission that some matters that are brought up are time sensitive and require a vote before two readings could be held.
The motion passed on a vote of 16-8 with Proffitt, Brown, Hill, Meehan, Depew, Trivett, VonCannon, Grindstaff, Holdren, Jenkins, Lewis, Miller, Simerly, Carroll, Gobble and McQueen voting in favor and Campbell, Tester, Ward, Garland, Gouge-Dietz, Culler and Lyons opposing the change.
Since approving the change to two readings, several issues have come up before the commission which have required immediate action and no second readings were held.
The second reading issue was brought up during Thursday’s meeting of the rules and bylaws committee and County Attorney Hardin said the rule is not being followed by the commission.
“We’ve not had a second reading on anything since we made the rule,” Hardin said.
McQueen, a member of the rules and bylaws committee, presented an idea to the committee on Thursday which rather than outlining exceptions to the second reading rule would clarify when a second reading would be required.
His original proposal, which he said would make the rule more functional, would require second readings on any motion estimated to have a cost in excess of $250,000 or if it would permanently alter or replace existing rules, guidelines, codes or structures. An exception to his rule, he said, would be if the motion required immediate action or would require a response before the next full meeting of the commission.
“I think the spirit of the second reading rule was in dealing with the big stuff that has a lasting effect or things we need to slow down and consider,” McQueen said, adding that things like approving bank singers and accepting donations to the animal shelter did not require more than one reading of a resolution.
After discussion, members of the committee amended McQueen’s proposal, changing the associated to cost to “$100,000 in new money” so that it would not affect things such as budget line item transfers.
The committee voted unanimously to present McQueen’s proposed change to the full commission on Monday.
Also on the agenda for the commission meeting are resolutions to rename a bridge in the Happy Valley area after SSgt. Billy Joe Ellis, a native of that community who is listed as Missing In Action from the Vietnam War, and a proposal to declare Nov. 23-30 as Adoption Awareness Week to coordinate with celebrations across the country for National Adoption Day, on Nov. 22.

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