BY KEN LITTLE
Two new faces will be at the table when the Tusculum Board of Mayor and Commissioners convenes in January for its first meeting of 2014.
John Lamb formally took over as part-time City Recorder on Dec. 1, succeeding Eva Sams, who retired after 10 years of service.
At Monday night's Board of Mayor and Commissioners meeting, Alex Chesnut was sworn in as City Attorney. He succeeds Jim Mercer, who has been Tusculum's City Attorney for the last 15 years.
Chesnut, of the Chesnut Law Office in Greeneville, was sworn in by Lamb.
Commissioners had praise for the new officials and the ones they replaced.
MERCER STEPS DOWN
Mercer became City Attorney in 1998 and helped draft ordinances and regulations made necessary by the city's growth, Mayor John Foster said.
Mercer was also instrumental in preparing an employee handbook that was recently introduced in the city.
"He's always provided the time to work with us and help in any way he could," Foster said.
Mercer is stepping down from the part-time Tusculum position but will continue at his Greeneville law practice.
"It's been an honor and a privilege and a pleasure to work with you. I'm happy Alex Chesnut has agreed to take over my position. I feel like the City of Tusculum is in good hands," Mercer said.
Chesnut said he looks forward to working with elected officials.
"It was an honor to be asked to do this job, and I want to thank the (selection) committee for approving me," Chesnut said.
Mercer praised the dedication of city officials he has worked with over the last 15 years.
"Nobody knows how much time the mayor and commissioners put in serving the city," he said.
CERTIFICATE OF APPRECIATION
At the meeting, Sams received a certificate of appreciation for her service from Mayor Foster.
"Eva has been a good Recorder for us," Foster said. "The processes and the duties of the Recorder have changed a lot in the last 10 years. She's done a great job, and we're going to miss her."
Sams worked 34 years with Greene County Schools and retired as budget director prior to becoming Tusculum Recorder. She said she plans to spend more time with her family.
"It's been a pleasure working here with these nice people," Sams said.
Lamb, a retired U.S. Army colonel, has lived in Tusculum since 2001 and worked previously at Tusculum College as Director of Information Systems. He retired from that position in 2007.
In other business, the City of Tusculum was given a clean bill of financial health by a certified public accountant who presented results of an audit of the city's 2012-13 fiscal year.
An audit report prepared by Greeneville CPA David M. Ellis was reviewed by the Board of Mayor and Commissioners.
"We looked at processes, how everyone does their job and how they interact," Ellis said.
The city has $3.5 million in assets and only about $25,000 in debt, Ellis said.
"The board is not overspending, but managing assets prudently," he said.
Commissioners also adopted an ordinance approving the 2013-14 budget, a new requirement of the state comptroller's office.
The 2013-14 fiscal year runs from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014. The current budget was adopted in June by commissioners.
"Our budget is very simple. It follows a good format," Foster said.
In the future, the budget ordinance will be adopted each year when the spending plan is approved, Vice-Mayor Alan Corley said.
LIGHTING ISSUE ADDRESSED
After a citizen expressed concern at the November board meeting about adequate lighting along a section of Erwin Highway used for walking and running by Tusculum College students, Foster said he would look into the matter.
The mayor said Monday night that he found two burned-out streetlights, and had Greeneville Light & Power System install three new streetlights along one side of Erwin Highway between Old Shiloh Road and Tusculum Baptist Church that is frequented by pedestrians.
Foster asked Tusculum police and citizens to report burned-out streetlights to the city so they can be promptly be replaced.
"We will continue to monitor that situation," Foster said.
The next scheduled meeting of the Board of Mayor and Commissioners is at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, at City Hall, 145 Alexander St.