Commission fails to elect chairman, again

By | November 29, 2006 12:00 am

Kim Swindell Wood
A second attempt at electing a chairman for White County Board of Commissioners still failed even with two more nominees placed into the competition.
When the Nov. 20, 2006, meeting adjourned, Wallace Austin remained county commission chairman, at least temporarily, until a majority vote can be obtained for the candidates nominated for the position.
During the September 2006 meeting of the commission, two candidates for chairman split the vote of the 14-member legislative body. Austin, who is serving his second four-year term as a commissioner, has held the chairmanship several years. He was again nominated as chairman for 2006-2007. Betty Bohannon, who served on the commission 1998-2002 and was elected again for the 2006-2010 term, was also nominated for the 2006-2007 chairman’s position. Each nominee received seven votes during the September meeting. Several efforts of re-voting to break the tie were unsuccessful.
During the Nov. 20, 2006, meeting, Jerry Austin said the chairmanship should be addressed again instead of
“just coasting along.”
Wallace Austin and Bohannon were again nominated for the position.
Wallace Austin received six votes: Joe B. England, Richard Lane, Wallace Austin, Terry Alley, Bruce Null and Andy Alley.
Bohannon received seven votes: Jerry Austin, B.K. Luna, Jerry Denton, Betty Bohannon, Hank Clark, Marion Bumbalough and Denny Wayne Robinson.
Dewayne Howard was absent.
Neither Wallace Austin nor Bohannon received a majority vote of eight.
Jerry Austin said Robert’s Rules of Order states the voting procedure continues until the tie is broken.
“I told you the first time this came up if Ms Bohannon would agree, I’d gladly step down and let you all decide on somebody else,” said Wallace Austin, “and I’ll say that again.”
A second vote was taken.
Wallace Austin received six votes: Terry Alley, Wallace Austin, Bruce Null, Andy Alley, Joe B. England and Richard Lane.
Bohannon received six votes: Marion Bumbalough, Denny Wayne Robinson, Hank Clark, Jerry Austin, Jerry Denton and Betty Bohannon.
B.K. Luna “passed.” Dewayne Howard was absent.
Luna then nominated Jerry Austin. Clark said he heard Jerry Austin say he did not want the position. Luna then said he mistakenly nominated Jerry Austin, when he meant to say Jerry Denton. However, since the nomination was already on the floor, commissioners were required to proceed with voting.
Wallace Austin received six votes: Joe B. England, Richard Lane, Bruce Null, Andy Alley, Wallace Austin and Terry Alley.
Bohannon received five votes: Jerry Denton, Jerry Austin, Marion Bumbalough, Betty Bohannon and Denny Wayne Robinson.
Jerry Austin did not receive any votes.
B.K. Luna and Hank Clark passed.
Luna then nominated Jerry Denton for the next round of voting.
Wallace Austin received six votes: Wallace Austin, Terry Alley, Andy Alley, Bruce Null, Richard Lane and Joe B. England
Bohannon did not receive any votes.
Jerry Denton received seven votes: Marion Bumbalough, Denny Wayne Robinson, Jerry Denton, Betty Bohannon, Jerry Austin, Hank Clark and B.K. Luna.
Neither Wallace Austin nor Jerry Denton received a majority vote.
A motion was made and seconded to table the matter until the December meeting. Commissioners voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
In other business, Jerry Denton asked what happened to the third position for judicial commissioner that was approved last fiscal year by the county commission. The two judicial commissioners who are already holding those positions are receiving their individual salaries, plus the two are dividing the salary funded for the third judicial commissioner.
Denton’s question coincided with the resolution presented to the commission to appoint two judicial commissioners, which takes place every two years in the November meeting. The two recommendations made by the committee were Lori Wilson Meeks and Jeanine Horton, who were already serving in that capacity.
“I don’t remember voting to keep it at two,” said Denton. “Who gave somebody authority not to do that?”
“The [screening] committee did that,” said Terry Alley.
“Who gave you the authority?” Denton asked again.
Terry Alley did not answer, but Wallace Austin interjected with a question.
“It’s under the supervision of Judge [Sam] Benningfield, isn’t it?” said Wallace Austin, directing his question to Terry Alley. “Is he satisfied with the two?”
“Yes,” said Terry Alley. “Everything’s running pretty smooth.”
“Who gave them permission to circumvent this body’s authority?” stressed Denton, directing his question to Terry Alley. “We said three.”
“I don’t think they’ve overspent the line item,” said Wallace Austin.
“That’s not the point,” said Denton. “We specified three.”
“That change was made, I believe, somewhere after the first quarter of the year – it might have been the second quarter,” said Terry Alley, “and it was requested that the ones that had it that rather than hiring somebody to finish out that year – the girls thought they could do that. The [screening] committee met on it and elected to go ahead and to that.”
Luna said he had the minutes from the budget meeting when the recommendation was presented for dividing the salary for the third judicial commissioner between the two who were already holding that position. However, Luna said the matter was never sent to the full court for approval.
Lane asked the reason for hiring a third judicial commissioner. Herd Sullivan, White County executive, explained the additional person was to take the place of the warrant writing that had once been the duty of the circuit court clerk’s office.
The two appointments for judicial commissioner were approved. (11 “yes” votes: Wallace Austin, Jerry Austin, B.K. Luna, Denny Wayne Robinson, Terry Alley, Marion Bumbalough, Andy Alley, Betty Bohannon, Joe B. England, Richard Lane and Bruce Null; 2 passed: Jerry Denton and Hank Clark; “ 1 absent: Dewayne Howard)
When the commission moved to the next order of business, B.K. Luna, member of Solid Waste Committee, said he had read in The Expositor a bid notice for a trackhoe for White County Landfill.
“We voted to buy a roll-off truck and not buy a trackhoe,” said Luna, directing his question to Sullivan.
Luna asked why the bid notice was published. Sullivan said the landfill needs a trackhoe “right now, real bad.”
“It’s not right for them to not get one,” said Sullivan.
“Don’t you think it needs to go to the committee?” asked Luna.
“Well, these other departments don’t,” said Sullivan. “If I’m not going to be able to do solid waste, I’m not fixing to sign anything else.”
Luna also asked about the grant money to construct the farmers’ market at White County Fairgrounds. Sullivan said the amount varies from year to year.
“It’s according to how many requests they get from all these counties to build one,” said Sullivan.
Luna said he “heard” $30,000 was the amount of the grant. Sullivan said $30,000 was the minimum. Luna said he was told the county would have to fund approximately $70,000 in addition to the $30,000 grant. Sullivan said the county “might have to come up with some more money.”
“I thought the night we approved that paperwork it said USDA grant of $50,000,” said England.
Sullivan said that could have been the minimum amount at the time the paperwork was issued.
Commissioners also discussed the policies and procedures from the office of White County circuit court clerk.
Jerry Austin asked if one of the policies indicated an employee of the office could not combine a sick leave day with a holiday. Richard Lane questioned the vacation time and asked if this policy was the same throughout all offices.
Wallace Austin replied, “No. It’s just the policy of the circuit court clerk office. It’s their policy only.”
“I think the vacation time should be scheduled like the holiday times are,” said Lane. “They all have the same holidays, but I think the vacation time should be scheduled the same way as other offices are. You’ve got some people who’ve been in these offices 20 years and don’t get two weeks off for vacation time. That’s just my personal opinion. I’m not trying to say the employees don’t deserve it, but I think it needs to be more unified than what it is right now.”
“Every elected office is a constitutional office,” said Wallace Austin, “and that person that’s elected can adopt whatever policies they want to. I think the county attorney has seen this policy and approved it before it came to us.”
Sullivan said commissioners should make a list of items they feel should be changed and give those suggestions to Beverly Templeton, White County circuit court clerk.
England asked if the commission could request Templeton to appear at the next meeting and explain her policies and procedures.
A motion was made and seconded to table the matter until next month.
The commission also:
•Approved resolution to amend county general budget for raises implemented by Tennessee General Assembly for general sessions judges, $10,531 (12 “yes” votes: Wallace Austin, Jerry Austin, B.K. Luna, Denny Wayne Robinson, Terry Alley, Marion Bumbalough, Jerry Denton, Andy Alley, Betty Bohannon, Hank Clark, Joe B. England, Bruce Null; 1 “no” vote: Richard Lane; 1 absent: Dewayne Howard)
•Approved resolution to amend county general budget for grant received for building improvements at White County Health Department, $8,000 (13 “yes” votes; 1 absent: Dewayne Howard)
•Approved resolution to amend county general budget for trustee’s bond, $4,473 (13 “yes” votes; 1 absent: Dewayne Howard)
•Approved resolution to amend federal programs budget for Title I project by transferring funds to needed line items. Doyle Elementary does not qualify for Title I teachers, so two educational assistants were hired to help with the Title I programs with additional funds requested for materials and supplies (13 “yes” votes; 1 absent: Dewayne Howard)
•Approved resolution to authorize ad hoc increase in the retirement benefits payable to certain retired employees of employers participating in the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System (13 “yes” votes; 1 absent: Dewayne Howard)
•Approved resolution to request unclaimed balance of account remitted to state treasurer under unclaimed property act, $9.547.66 (13 “yes” votes; 1 absent: Dewayne Howard)
•Approved resolution to change county commission meetings in January 2007 and February 2007 to the fourth Monday instead of the third Monday because of holidays on the third Monday in both months (12 “yes” votes; 1 “no” vote: Richard Lane; 1 absent: Dewayne Howard)
White County Board of Commissioners meets at 7 p.m., the third Monday of each month at White County Courthouse. The next meeting will be Dec. 18, 2006.

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