BY SARAH R. GREGORY
The Greeneville Board of Mayor and Aldermen is scheduled to vote Tuesday on resolutions that would make a number of changes to the Town's charter -- some minor, such as removal of antiquated language, and others major, such as an increase in the length of board members' terms and the way municipal elections are conducted.
Various changes that have been proposed would:
* lengthen the Board of Mayor and Aldermen's terms of office from two years to four;
* move the Greeneville municipal elections from June to August to coincide with the County General Election;
* set redistricting requirements in an effort to have approximately equal populations represented in the Town's two wards;
(Note: During discussion on election procedures, Alderman Sarah Webster suggested changing the current procedure so that the Town would elect one alderman from each of the two Greeneville wards at each municipal election instead of electing both aldermen from the First Ward in even-numbered years and both aldermen from the Second Ward, as is now the method used.)
* remove the staff of the Recorder's Office and the Chiefs and Assistant Chiefs of the police and fire departments from the Town's Civil Service system, with current employees in those positions grandfathered in;
* remove a cap that bases the number of police officers the Town may hire on population;
* remove from the charter the specified salaries paid to members of the board and instead make the determination of their salaries part of the regular budget process;
* allow proposed new ordinances to be published on the Town's website in addition to being published in a newspaper of general circulation in the community;
* remove antiquated language in the charter that refers to "Sabbath-breaking";
* remove restrictive language in the charter so as to allow the Town to support pageants and other festivities; and,
* remove Justice of the Peace and City Judge responsibilities from the Mayor and the Recorder.
SIMPLE MAJORITY NEEDED
If the board approves the resolutions -- which require only one reading at this time, according to Mayor W.T. Daniels -- they will then be given to state Sen. Steve Southerland, R-1st, and state Rep. David Hawk, R-5th, to be introduced in the Tennessee General Assembly in the legislative session that begins in January.
Because the Town's charter was issued by the state government, as is the usual practice in Tennessee, the proposed changes in the charter would require approval by the state legislature and then by Gov. Bill Haslam.
If those approvals are given, the Greeneville Board of Mayor and Aldermen would need to approve the resolutions again in order for changes to take effect.
During the board's most recent discussions about the changes at a day-long retreat Monday, Alderman Darrell Bryan questioned whether the issue required a two-thirds majority vote of the board or a simple majority.
City Administrator Todd Smith indicated that he would need to research the requirement.
In a telephone interview Friday evening, Mayor Daniels told The Greeneville Sun that Smith had researched the subject, and had found that only a simple majority would be needed to approve the resolution and move the changes to Nashville for consideration.
BOARD MEMBERS' VIEWS
At the workshop on Monday, there was very broad consensus among the board members in support of almost all of the proposed changes, which were developed by Smith and presented to the board for consideration early this year.
Most of the discussion of the proposals, and a degree of disagreement, focused on the election procedures, and especially on whether to increase the terms of office for aldermen and the mayor from two years to four years.
No formal votes were taken since the session was a workshop rather than a regular board meeting.
The discussion indicated, however, that Alderman Webster, Alderman Buddy Hawk, and Mayor Daniels either supported making the change to four-year terms or leaned toward doing so, and Alderman Keith Paxton and Alderman Darrell Bryan either opposed making the change or leaned against making it.
PUBLIC INPUT VERY LIGHT
Beginning last February, the board held a series of three public workshops, the most recent in mid-August, to discuss the proposed changes.
Discussions were also held at the board's retreat Monday at the Clyde Austin 4-H center, and informally during at least one other public meeting of the board.
Advance notice of the meetings was made public, and all were open to attendance by citizens. All were covered in the Sun.
Daniels told the newspaper on Friday evening that he has not received calls or other comments from citizens about the changes, and he observed that attendance at public workshops, designed to inform citizens about the changes under consideration, has been light.
Daniels added that no one had requested time on the board's agenda to speak about the proposed changes, although he noted at the workshop this week that one person had expressed an opinion about one of the proposals at the August workshop.
In addition, at the board's invitation, one or two citizens attending an earlier workshop spoke concerning the charter proposals.
During board meetings and in interviews, Daniels has repeatedly called on the public to attend meetings and has invited citizens to answer a questionnaire, available at Town Hall, to provide feedback to the Town.
OTHER TOPICS ON AGENDA
In addition to changes to the Town's charter, the board will consider a few other items of business.
* Aldermen will consider purchasing vests for use by officers in the Greeneville Police Department.
* Updates to the Sewer User Ordinance, already approved by the Greeneville Water Commission, will also be considered.
Those changes, Water Superintendent Laura White said at the time of the Water Commission's approval, are changes to legal language, required by the state, and do not affect requirements made on residents or businesses.
* Aldermen will consider a bid to replace or repair detector loops for traffic signals at some intersections in Town.
* Two ordinances that make amendments to the Town's budget -- essentially housekeeping measures -- will also be considered.
* Also on the agenda is a public hearing to review the Town's annual stormwater report.