Committee reviewing terms, appointments of county boards

By Thomas Wilson

STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   Questions regarding term limits for members of the county's Industrial Development Board (IDB) has the county commission's Rules and Bylaws Committee reviewing appointment procedures for the county's boards and committees.
   "I do feel we need to get these things in order," Commissioner Al Meehan, who chairs the county commission's Rules and Bylaws Committee, told the Star. "We need to get the parameters down."
   The Rules and Bylaws Committee establishes and maintains rules appointing commissioners and citizens to a variety of boards and committees.
   According to the Industrial Development Board, or "bond board" charter, terms of office for board officers are not to exceed three years. All officers hold office until their successors are duly elected and qualified, reads the charter.
   Board directors listed on the Board roster includes terms of service through 2006 for officers Shirley McGee, Thomas R. Jones, and Russ Swanay and through 2008 for members Lowell Shell and Harry Sisk.
   The county's attorney, George Dugger, stated that the board is operating correctly under its authority and charter. He cited the board's creation as a nonprofit corporation that does not have direct affiliation with the county commission.
   The county commission appoints the board's directors, but the board's officers of president, secretary and treasurer were elected from the board's directors, Dugger said.
   "The only thing the commission does is appoint the directors; they do not appoint the officers," said Dugger, who termed the directors' term limit issue a "misunderstanding."
   One of the most pronounced bond board changes occurred at October's commission meeting where Bond Board member and president Haynes Elliott was not re-appointed to the board by the full county commission.
   Elliott claimed he did not want another term on the board and had recommended Sisk and Eddie Carver as candidates.
   "I didn't want to be on it," Elliott said.
   Elliott stated that he helped form the Bond Board but added that he did not recall how long he had served as a board member.
   Dugger said Carmella Price had served as secretary and treasurer while Elliott had served as the president of the board.
   "One person could hold both offices," he said. Dugger stated that the charter did not set actual terms for the bond board's officers of president, secretary and treasurer.
   "Bond attorneys all over the United States have approved bonds under the board," said Dugger. "There wouldn't be anything wrong with it if they didn't."
   Chartered as a nonprofit corporation in 1967 by the Tennessee General Assembly, the Bond Board functions as a separate entity and is not attached under the direct authority of the county commission.
   The Board handles bond issues -- primarily regarding property ownership related to tax purposes -- for industries that set up shop in the county.
   The Bond Board owns the actual bricks-and-mortar buildings of the Star Building Systems and the now defunct Frank Schaffer Publications, according to Dugger.
   The IDB charter reads that the board may appoint up to 100 members. The charter is also subject to modification and amendment.
   Meehan said he had contacted the County Technical Advisory Service who informed him they would issue a legal opinion about the charter and term limits of the bond board.
   The county commission could amend the action if it is not in accordance with laws or procedures governing the committee charter, Meehan said.
   The CTAS provides courses for elected officers under state laws pertaining to local government administration and provides general guidelines on the functions of some county committees.
   Meehan said the Rules and Bylaws committee members established a recommendation on appointments that the committee would be presenting at December's commission meeting, which is scheduled for today.
   He said County Executive Dale Fair had expressed his support for the committee's recommendations thus far.
   "We are trying to bring responsibility and accountability to the commission in its activities," said Meehan. "My focus is accountability to each other and accountability to the taxpayers."