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VOL. 129 | NO. 29 | Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Commission Sets Up in Temporary Space

By Bill Dries

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Shelby County Commissioners will serve out the remaining seven months of their current four-year term of office by staying upstairs at the county administration building in their committee room.

The Monday, Feb. 10, commission meeting was the first in the expanded committee room as the ground floor chambers where the commission normally holds its twice-monthly voting meetings is renovated.

The renovation is expected to be completed just in time for the commission elected in the August county general elections to take the oath of office and hold their first voting meeting in September.

The renovation’s completion, which is part of an overall renovation of the entire late 1960s building, will coincide with the commission’s change to a single-member district structure. At least seven new commissioners will be elected to the 13-member body in August, based on those members who are serving their last term under county term limits and those not seeking re-election after one term.


Monday’s meeting was about an hour long with commissioners taking time to memorialize the birthday of Commissioner Sidney Chism.

Commissioner Steve Mulroy contributed a limerick that began with a reference to Mulroy’s donation last year of one of his kidneys.

“Even though I am down to one kidney, even I can appreciate our Sidney,” Mulroy wrote.


Commissioner Mike Ritz withdrew his long-delayed resolution seeking to put the commission on record as refusing to confirm any Economic Development Growth Engine board appointments by the city of Memphis until the city fully pays its share of funding for the joint city-county body.

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell countered last year that the city has worked out a payment schedule and so far has met its payments. That’s after the city used its share of the money from the sale of the old Defense Depot in South Memphis for other purposes despite committing the money to finance the startup of EDGE, which combines several economic development boards and commissions into a single structure.

Ritz complained Monday that his effort had been “typecast” by critics.

In other action, Ritz delayed a vote on the second of three readings of his proposal to raise the pay of Shelby County Schools board members from $4,200 a year to $25,000 a year with $1,000 extra for the school board chairman.

The measure was defeated earlier on first reading. It returns to the commission for consideration at the May 28 committee sessions with a vote on second reading possible at the June 2 commission meeting, depending on the reception it gets in committee.

The commission also approved a $35,175 contract with John Pruett Architects for the architecture and engineering work on a new storage and equipment building for the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office that would also serve as the central office for the Sheriff’s reserve deputy program.

Commissioner Steve Basar argued the Sheriff’s office didn’t need a new building but could instead have rented an existing building or used another county government building. He and Ritz cast the only no votes on the matter.

And the commission set the terms of its search for a new Shelby County historian to be appointed at its March 24 meeting after interviews with applicants in committee sessions that month. Whoever is appointed to the post, held by former commissioner Ed Williams until his death last year, will serve a four-year term. The original resolution set the term at 10 years. That was changed with the passage of the resolution Monday.

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