County Commission to consider holding evening meetings

Published 9:21 am Saturday, February 14, 2015

A proposal to hold all Carter County Commission meetings at night once again will be up for debate when the governing body convenes Tuesday.

During the group’s January meeting, Commissioner John Lewis made a motion from the floor to set all of the group’s meetings at 6 p.m.

He later amended his motion, changing it to direct County Attorney Josh Hardin to prepare a resolution setting the meeting time at 6 p.m.. The change came after an opinion from Hardin that bringing the matter up from the floor was not the appropriate way to handle it because a resolution to make that change had previously been voted down by the commission. The amended motion by Lewis passed on a margin of 17-6.

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In October, Lewis askedHardin to draft a resolution to move all the meetings to evenings, saying it was too hard for the general public to attend the morning meetings because they worked during the day.

During the November meeting, the resolution was brought to the floor for a vote and failed to pass by a margin of 10-11. Two members of the commission were absent during that meeting and one member abstained from the vote.

Currently, the commission meetings are held on a rotating time schedule with half of the meetings being held at 6 p.m. and the other half at 9 a.m.

When Lewis made his request during the January meeting, he cited a concern that some members of the commission work during the day and have difficulty attending morning meetings to represent their constituents. Some commissioners voice support for the change while others opposed it, saying the commissioners new the meeting schedule when the decided to seek the office.

A new resolution to hold all meetings at 6 p.m. will be presented to the group Tuesday for a vote.

The commission will consider also a resolution for participation in the Tennessee Housing and Development Agency’s HOME Program, which provides grant money to low-income residents to make needed repairs to their homes. Carter County has been approved for $500,000 in HOME grant money, but the resolution must be adopted to abide by the program’s terms.

The HOME Program is being administered locally through the First Tennessee Development District.

During the January meeting, commissioners took a test run with an electronic voting system and voted to seek bids for the installation of a similar system.

The electronic voting system allows commissioners to cast their votes not with their voices, but with a small wireless controller. The device links into a computer system that the clerk operates, and then projects the commissioners’ votes onto the wall for the public to see.

Each of the controllers has its own unique identification number which is assigned to a specific commissioner in the computer system. When a vote is called for, the commissioner selects a button marked either “aye”, “nay” or “abstain” and then hits a second button to confirm his or her vote.

Once all the commissioners have locked in their votes, the computer tallies the votes and displays the results on the wall along with the names of all the commissioners and how they voted.

Bids were presented to the budget committee earlier this month, with the bid for the Current Works — Roll Call Pro Advanced System coming in at a cost of $20,000. County Mayor Leon Humphrey said he had enough money in his budget to cover system.

Members of the budget committee approved the transfer of funds from the Mayor’s budget to purchase the system. The purchase must now be approved by the full commission.