VOL. 129 | NO. 174 | Monday, September 8, 2014
County Commission Begins New Term
By Bill Dries
Shelby County Commissioners elect a new chairman Monday, Sept. 8, for the next year at the first voting meeting of their four-year term of office.
And their agenda includes votes on appointments by Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell to his second-term team of division directors and administrators.
Shelby County Commissioners meet Monday at a later time – 3 p.m. – and in newly renovated commission chambers. Their first order of business is the election of a new chairman for the next year.
(Daily News File/Lance Murphey)
The meeting at the Vasco Smith Administration Building begins at 3 p.m. Follow the action on Twitter at @tdnpols, www.twitter.com/tdnpols.
The change to a meeting time later in the afternoon was among the final actions of the old commission that left office at the end of August.
Six of the 13 county commissioners were re-elected to the body, and seven are serving their first four-year term. Commissioner Mark Billingsley was elected for a full term following his appointment to the body in January.
The format of the commission has shifted as well, with the current roster elected to 13 newly formed single-member districts that replaced the body’s old configuration of one single-member district and four districts represented by three commissioners each.
Monday marks the group’s first voting meeting to be held in the newly renovated commission chambers, which were updated over the summer as part of a larger overhaul of the nearly 50-year-old Downtown office buildings.
Commissioners got accustomed to the renovations during their first committee sessions held in the chambers last week.
The old water-spotted tile roof has been replaced and flat-screen monitors added around the chambers to show commission votes.
Even with county technicians present to log on commissioners last week, members were unable to use its electronic voting system and instead did voice roll call votes on items before the various committees.
The meetings, which are supposed to be streamed online, were also not webcast or available in archives on the commission’s website, which has been a longstanding problem for the body.
The commissioners also have new chairs that are all uniform for the first time since 2006 when Commissioners Deidre Malone and Bruce Thompson insisted on keeping their maroon cloth- covered chairs. One of the two chairs survived through the second term of Commissioner Steve Mulroy.
Last week, members put off an attempt to come up with recommendations on a new chairman, with some members arguing the attempt to begin moving on the matter before the first voting meeting was unprecedented.
Returning commissioners are likely to cite unwritten traditions that suggest rotating the chairmanship of the body between the two political parties.
By that nonbinding and inconsistent tradition, the next chairman would be a Republican. But critics of the practice are also likely to note that while previous Chairman James Harvey was a Democrat, most of the votes for him as chairman a year ago came from Republican commissioners.
At Monday’s meeting, the commission votes on the reappointment of Harvey Kennedy as the county’s chief administrative officer as well as five returning division directors – Public Works Director Tom Needham, Office of Planning and Development Director Rick Copeland, Chief Information Officer John Halbert Jr., Health Services Director Yvonne Madlock and Finance Director Mike Swift.
Luttrell has nominated William Gupton of the Tennessee Corrections Department as the county’s new corrections division director.
Still to come is Luttrell’s decision on a new Community Services division director. Luttrell has said he will not reappoint Dottie Jones to the position.
Also on Monday’s agenda is a special use permit for a private members club at 4910 S. Germantown Road, south of East Shelby Drive, by William F. Tait Jr.
Germantown Trails Country Club would be built on 7.5 acres zoned for conservation agriculture.
The Office of Planning and Development reported the use is inconsistent with the surrounding area, which is single-family subdivisions including those on the two-lane collector road. A 6,000-square-foot single-family house, which would be renovated, is on the property now, along with a swimming pool and a 3,000-square-foot barn.
The staff recommends approval of the plan with some conditions added to what the developers would have to do. The Land Use Control Board recommended rejection of the special use permit and, in committee last week, commissioners recommended rejecting it as well.