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New Charter defines duties of mayor, city manager

By Bill ShortFlag City Logo

Millington’s new Charter, which becomes effective on Jan. 1, 2013, will abolish the city’s strong-mayor form of government and replace it with a city manager form.

At the request of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, the Tennessee General Assembly deleted the entire existing Charter, which constitutes Chapter 238 of the Private Acts of 1903, and through passage of a new Private Act, replaced it with the new Charter.

The new Private Act was approved by at least five of the seven Millington aldermen within 60 days after it was signed by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam. Then, Interim Mayor Linda Carter certified its approval to Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett.

Under the new Charter, the board will appoint a chief administrative officer of the city with the title of “city manager,” who will serve at the pleasure of the board for an indefinite term. This individual will be selected on the basis of training, experience and other administrative qualifications for the office, without regard to the person’s political or religious preference or place of residence at the time of the appointment.

No board member will be eligible for the position within two years after expiration or other termination of the member’s latest term of office.

The city manager will be directly responsible to the board for administration of all units of city government under the jurisdiction of the position and for carrying out policies adopted by the board. The job description of the position will be established through a resolution adopted by the board.

The city manager, or an employee designated by him, will make all purchases and contracts for the city’s departments and agencies, subject to the provisions of the Charter and ordinances consistent with it. The exceptions would be materials, supplies and equipment used only in the public schools, which would be purchased by the school superintendent.

Although not required to be a resident of Millington at the time of appointment, within 90 days, the city manager will have to establish and maintain an actual residence in the city for the duration of employment. Salary and other benefits incidental to the position will be fixed by the board.

In the temporary absence or disability of the city manager, the board will designate a qualified officer of the city to assume the duties and authority of the manager.

Except for the purpose of obtaining information to fulfill their duties, the aldermen will deal with city employees only through the city manager.

The board will not give orders to the city manager’s subordinates or otherwise interfere with managerial functions through such means as directing or requesting the appointment or removal of any subordinates, or the making of particular purchases from, or contracts with, any specific organization.

At least 60 days before the beginning of the fiscal year, the city manager with the assistance of the finance director will prepare and submit a budget to the board and an accompanying message. It will outline the proposed financial policies of the city, describe the budget’s important features, indicate any major changes from the current year in financial policies, expenditures and revenues, along with the reasons for such changes, and summarize the city’s debt position.

At any time during the fiscal year, if it appears probable to the city manager working with the finance director that the available revenues will be insufficient to meet the amount appropriated, they will report the estimated amount of the deficit to the board without delay, as well as any remedial action to be taken.

The board will then take such action as it deems necessary to prevent or minimize any deficit, including a reduction of appropriations by ordinance.

No payment will be made or obligation incurred against any appropriation, unless the city manager working with the finance director certifies that an appropriation has been made for that purpose. And there will have to be sufficient “unexpended and unencumbered” funds in the appropriation to meet the obligation or make the expenditure.

Under the new Charter, the mayor will be the “executive head” of the city, responsible for enforcement of the city ordinances and state laws within the city limits. He will preside at all meetings of the board, make appointments to boards or commissions authorized by state statute or ordinance, and vote on any item before the board in the event of a tie vote of the members attending.

If the mayor disapproves of any part or all of an ordinance or resolution, he will have to file this disapproval with the city clerk and deliver copies to the board members with a written explanation within five days after its final passage by the board. After reconsidering the ordinance or resolution at the next board meeting, if at least five members approve it, it will take effect, notwithstanding the mayor’s veto.

The board will elect an alderman to serve as vice mayor for one year, who will be eligible for re-election.

The vice mayor will be authorized to act as mayor in the absence, sickness, inability or disqualification of the mayor to perform the duties of the office. While fulfilling the mayor’s duties, the vice mayor will have the right to vote on all matters coming before the board.

A vacancy will exist in the office of mayor if its occupant resigns, dies, moves outside the city limits, cannot perform the duties of the office because of six months of continuous disability, accepts any federal, state, county or other municipal office that is filled by public election, is convicted of malfeasance or misfeasance in office, a felony, or a violation of the election laws of the state, or is adjudicated to have violated the City Charter.

The board will then appoint an alderman to serve as mayor for the remainder of the unexpired term.

At any meeting, through a motion offered by any alderman and approved by the board, a vacancy can be declared in the office if the mayor fails to attend 60 percent of the regular board meetings during any 12-month period.

If a vacancy occurs in the office of mayor, the vice mayor will temporarily assume the office. Within 30 days after the vacancy occurs, the board will appoint an alderman to serve for the remainder of the unexpired term.

If the vice mayor assumes the office of mayor, the board will elect an alderman within 30 days to serve as the new vice mayor for the remainder of the unexpired term.

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