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Resolution proposes City Charter changes to be sent to Tennessee General Assembly

By Bill ShortFlag City Logo

The Millington Board of Mayor and Aldermen adopted a resolution last week proposing
City Charter amendments that will be sent to the Tennessee General Assembly.
Board members took the action during their Feb. 17 meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Chris Ford and seconded by Alderman Larry Dagen.
The motion was passed by five affirmative votes, with Aldermen Hank Hawkins and Thomas McGhee absent.
Two years ago, as requested by the board, the state legislature enacted Chapter 58 of the Private Acts of 2012. It deleted the old Charter that was established for Millington by Chapter 238 of the Private Acts of 1903 and adopted a new Private Act Charter.
But to become effective, the new Charter had to be approved by at least five of the seven Millington aldermen within 60 days after it was signed by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.
The governor signed Private Chapter 58 on April 27, 2012 and, 10 days later, the board unanimously adopted a resolution approving it.
The new Charter abolished Millington’s strong-mayor form of government and replaced it with a city manager form.
Noting at last week’s meeting that he had been working on the proposed amendments since October 2013, City Attorney Charles Perkins said they are designed to make Millington operate “more efficiently and effectively.”
The first one is that, by a majority vote, the board would have the power to issue subpoenas for witnesses to testify for “all lawful purposes.” The same power would exist when the board is acting as the city’s Beer Board.
The next one would reduce from three to two the number of readings required for passage of an ordinance. But it would require at least one of the readings to be at a “regularly scheduled meeting.”
“As a result of having to get things done over the last year,” Perkins noted, “we’ve had to do a lot of special meetings to accomplish the three-reading requirement.”
Also, at the final passage of an ordinance, the full reading of it into the record would be waived unless an alderman requested it.
“We’ve got some ordinances that are 50 pages long, if they are budget amendments,” Perkins said. “It gets to be onerous reading into the record.”
The city manager would be selected on the basis of training, experience and any other administrative qualifications without regard to the person’s political or religious preferences, current or former agency or town appointment.
The procedure for selection of the city manager could be determined by the board through adoption of a resolution.
“That’s basically what you’ve done in the selection of the current interim manager,” Perkins said. “But with this in the Charter, you could change that procedure at your own leisure.”
If there is a vacancy in the office of city manager, the chief financial officer would “act as and have the responsibility” of the purchasing agent.
Another proposed amendment would allow the board to waive by a two-thirds vote the requirement that the city manager establish a residence in Millington within 90 days of appointment and maintain it for the duration of employment.
The current Charter states that aldermen will deal with city employees indirectly through the city manager, except to obtain information to fulfill their duties.
But a proposed amendment would allow an alderman to “make inquiry” from a city employee regarding “any particular matter” for which the employee has responsibility.
The final proposed amendment would allow the board to appoint the City Court clerk by a majority vote, instead of requiring the clerk’s election by Millington’s residents.
During the portion of the meeting designated for public comments, Rhonda O’Dell of 4265 Autumn Sun Road asked the board to “defer” adoption of the resolution until its March 10 meeting. She said that would give the city’s residents time to determine how the proposed amendments will affect their lives.
But citing the “time constraints” with the current session of the legislature, Perkins said he had already sent a copy of the amendments to District 99 State Rep. Ron Lollar, R-Bartlett, so they can be put in Private Act form.
“I think the legislature will probably adjourn in early April, or maybe even late March,” he noted. “So, if we were to delay this a month, it probably would not be enacted this year.”
O’Dell also said that, if the city manager will be allowed to live outside of Millington, the requirement should “at least” be within the city’s Reserve Annexation Area.
But Ford said he is not convinced that the board wants to be “boxed in” on the residency requirement.
“I think we can do that in the job description,” he noted. “We can have discretion on an individual candidate.”
While acknowledging that it does not require a Charter amendment, Alderman Frankie Dakin recommended that a public hearing be conducted at the first reading of each ordinance instead of the final one.
“That will give us an opportunity to hear what people have to say on a specific ordinance,” he concluded, “and then change it for the second reading.”

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