The Greeneville Board of Mayor and Aldermen will hold a workshop on Friday morning to discuss potential amendments to the Town's Charter. Some of the amendments -- if enacted -- would make major changes to the town's governmental structure.
The meeting, which is open to the public, will be held at 9 a.m. in the small boardroom at Greeneville Town Hall.
No formal actions or decisions are expected at the workshop, which is being held to provide an opportunity for extended discussion of the suggested amendments among the board members -- not as a time for the board to take any formal action.
As was the case with the change in the Greeneville charter that officially created the City Administrator position earlier this year, making any change in the town charter requires:
1. approval of the amendment or amendments by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, following opportunity for public input;
2. follow-up action on the amendment(s) by the Tennessee General Assembly and the governor, by approving private legislation;
3. then a second, confirmatory vote of approval by the board itself.
The potential amendments to the town charter that will be discussed at the workshop on Friday include, among others, changes that would:
* abolish the two-Ward organization of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen and merge the First Ward and the Second Ward into one unit so that elections of aldermen would be at-large for the entire town rather than by Ward;
* extend the term of office of a Greeneville alderman from two years, as called for in the charter, to four years;
* remove the Recorder's office staff from the Greeneville Civil Service system, which currently includes the Greeneville Police Department, except the chief, the Greeneville Fire Department, except the chief, and the Recorder's office staff, including the Recorder;
* coordinate future Town of Greeneville election dates with county elections; and
* make certain modifications to the charter to adjust it to the fact that Greeneville now has a City Administrator.
There are also several other suggested amendments.
City Administrator Todd Smith said at the last Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting that the board needs to vote during December on any changes to the charter the board wants to make, in order to have enough time to send the changes to the Tennessee General Assembly to be included in 2013 legislation.
However, Greeneville Mayor W.T. Daniels said in an interview Tuesday evening that the workshop on Friday is intended simply to begin discussion of some potential charter changes that have been suggested in the last couple of years.
In particular, he explained in the interview, no action by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen is planned this calendar year that would make any change in the existing Ward structure of the town government, or extend an alderman's term of office from two to four years.
An information sheet prepared by the Town explains that amending the charter to abolish the concept of Wards would involve removing a couple of sentences from the charter.
The stated reason for the change, according to the information sheet, is the following:
"remove the Ward concept to encourage the elected aldermen to represent Greeneville as a whole and consider decisions that affect the Town as a whole instead of an individual ward."
Currently, Greeneville is divided at Church Street into two wards, and two aldermen are elected from each Ward.
Future town elections, if the change should be enacted, would allow aldermen to be elected at-large.
To abolish the Ward structure, the following two sentences would be removed from the charter:
"Each Alderman shall be resident of the Ward from which he is elected an shall have resided within said Ward for one year before his election, and any Alderman removing from the Ward from which he is elected after his election shall thereby vacate his office."
"Said Town of Greeneville shall consist of only two Wards to be marked and divided by Church Street in said Town, the territory lying North of Church Street to constitute the First Ward, and the territory lying South of Church Street to constitute the Second Ward of said Town."
TERM OF OFFICE, SCHEDULE
The change to double the aldermen's term of office from two to four has the following reason provided by the Town in the information sheet:
"Provide Aldermen with terms long enough to make a practical impact on the Town. A current two year-term does not allow enough time to effectively implement Town strategies."
The suggested charter amendments include adding the following statement concerning elections:
"Commencing in 2014, Town elections will be conducted at the same time as the August County general elections. Beginning in 2014, one half of the Aldermen (those from the former Ward 2 shall be elected by qualified voters to a four-year term. Thereafter, the four Aldermen positions will alternate election cycles every two years."
Another suggested revision would remove the Recorder's office from the Greeneville Civil Service system.
Some wording changes also "removes the liability of the Recorder acting as the City Judge."
Another suggested change "removes requirement to have [Board of Mayor and Aldermen] approval of the introductory period of civil service employees per recent charter change. [It] assumes employees automatically gain full civil service benefits after six months, but gives Administrator option of extending period if necessary."
Other suggested changes would:
* remove a reference to "Sabbath-breaking";
* allow for electronic notice of changes to penal ordinances adopted by the board rather than publishing such changes in a newspaper that serves the community;
* change from twice a month to once a month the requirement for the town "Treasurer" to report at the Board Mayor and Aldermen meetings;
* allow the board to use town money or credit for public purposes such as parades or other public festivals; and
* allow for a larger pool of applicants to fill entry-level positions for town employment.
-- Sun Editor John M. Jones Jr. also contributed to this article.