BY SARAH R. GREGORY
Although no formal votes have been taken, consensus appears to have been reached by the Greeneville Board of Mayor and Aldermen concerning a number of proposed changes to Greeneville's charter, including changes to the existing Civil Service system.
During a day-long retreat Monday at the Clyde Austin 4-H Center, board members gathered with department heads and other Town employees, with the first topic of discussion being proposed changes to the Town's charter.
CIVIL SERVICE CHANGES
A number of the proposed changes refer to the Town's Civil Service system.
If the changes are approved by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, then by the Tennessee General Assembly and Gov. Bill Haslam, then confirmed by a final vote of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, the chiefs and assistant chiefs of Greeneville's police and fire departments and the Recorder's office would be removed from Greeneville Civil Service classification.
Existing employees in the Recorder's office would remain "grandfathered" into the system, but new hires in that office would not fall under the Civil Service system.
The chiefs and assistant chiefs of the police and fire departments would not be grandfathered-in.
Neither Fire Chief Mark Foulks nor Police Chief Terry Cannon voiced opposition to the change.
Discussion on the subject at the retreat centered around openness and objectivity to ensure fair, non-politically-motivated hirings and firings.
The Town's establishment of a Human Resources Department and Director, it was stated, will play a key role in ensuring such objectivity.
Human Resources Director Patsy Fuller, City Administrator Todd Smith, and Foulks and Cannon all discussed the professionalism of the Human Resources processes.
It was noted that job interviews would be conducted through panels of multiple individuals -- including multiple department heads, a board representative, and others knowledgeable in the applicant's field.
Some of the changes proposed for the Civil Service system were the suggestion of Foulks and Cannon. An important one among them was lengthening new employees' introductory periods from six months to one-year.
The chiefs suggested the change, it was made clear, because of the length of basic training for both the police and fire departments.
With each department requiring a number of weeks of training, both Foulks and Cannon said the remaining few weeks of the current introductory period was not a long enough time to evaluate a new recruit's performance.
Other changes to the Civil Service system include removing a requirement that the Civil Service Board meet every month.
Instead, the requirement would be that the board meet regularly as required.
Another change would require that the Civil Service Board certify a list of at least three names per each open, entry-level position in the police and fire departments.
NUMEROUS OTHER CHANGES
A number of other changes to the charter relating to various other issues were reviewed with little discussion.
Such changes include electing a vice-mayor from among the board members to serve in the event the mayor becomes incapacitated, and periodic review of the town's wards to ensure approximately equal population within each.
Other changes include removing a restriction that dictated there be no more than one police officer to every 300 citizens, and removing antiquated text that referred to Sabbath-breaking.
Another change would remove references to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen's salaries from the charter in favor of including those salaries in the regular budgeting process.
Board members' salaries, Smith observed, have remained at $200 per month since the early 1950s -- a time when $200 was a much greater amount than today when compared with the cost-of-living.
Other changes remove City Judge and Justice of the Peace responsibilities from the offices of the Mayor and Town Recorder.
Another proposed change would remove language preventing the Town from providing funding for public purposes, such as parades and other festivities.