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

By Bill Short

Flag City LogoThe Millington Board of Mayor and Aldermen adopted a resolution this week proposing two City Charter amendments that will be sent to the Tennessee General Assembly.
Board members took the action Monday night during their regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Mike Caruthers and seconded by Alderman Larry Dagen. The motion was passed by six affirmative votes, with Alderman Frankie Dakin absent.
One amendment would establish staggered terms for the city’s seven aldermen.
In August 2016, alderman positions 1-4 would be up for re-election to a two-year term and positions 5-7 for a four-year term. The first four positions would be up for re-election to a four-year term in 2018 and the remaining three in 2020.
The other amendment would abolish the city’s three-member Personnel Appeals Board.
During discussion shortly before the vote, Caruthers said hearings conducted by the PAB cost “a lot of money,” because the city pays for the attorneys.
But Alderman Thomas McGhee, who is the PAB’s current chairman, said abolishing it would eliminate the opportunity to “address an issue at a lower level.”
Because fired employees would appeal their cases directly to Shelby County Chancery Court, he said that could result in even larger fees paid to the attorneys, as well as a penalty for a “wrongful termination.”
But City Attorney Charles Perkins said the Tennessee Municipal League would pay for that.
In response to a question by Alderman Bethany Huffman, Perkins said a number of municipalities that have the city manager form of government do not have personnel appeals boards.
Huffman asked whether the PAB was something from Millington’s previous mayor-council form of government that “just didn’t get changed” when the new City Charter was ratified. Perkins said an appeals board is “typically used” when an elected mayor is a municipality’s full-time administrator.
The proposed amendments will be sent to District 99 State Rep. Ron Lollar and District 32 State Sen. Mark Norris with a recommendation that they be adopted.
Article XI, Section 9 of the Tennessee Constitution states that a municipality can propose changes to its Charter by one of the following methods:
(1) a two-thirds vote of the local legislative body
(2) a majority of residents voting in a general or special election
Perkins said the proposed amendments must be submitted for approval by both houses of the Tennessee General Assembly as a Private Act.
Gov. Bill Haslam would then have to sign the Private Act, and Secretary of State Tre Hargett would certify its adoption.
But to become effective, it would have to be ratified by at least five of the seven Millington aldermen within 60 days after it is signed by the governor.

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