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Financial savings behind plan to alter frequency of meetings

Financial savings behind plan to alter frequency of meetings

Posted: Tuesday, August 4, 2009 9:13 pm

By JOHN BRANNON
Messenger Staff Reporter
An idea whose time has come again survived vigorous discussion by the Obion County Budget Committee Monday and was forwarded to the Obion County Commission for a decision.
The idea? That the county commission return to its traditional practice of meeting once every two months.
The issue of how often the commission meets was among several items of public business transacted by the budget committee Monday morning in the conference room in the basement of the Obion County Courthouse.
Six of the seven members of the budget committee attended the meeting, with county commissioner Danny Jowers presiding.
County commissioner Jerry Grady entered a formal motion to recommend to the county commission that it revert to meeting six times a year. But his motion died for lack of a second.
However, a motion entered by commissioner Dwayne Hensley and seconded by commissioner Ralph Puckett passed handily. It merely forwards the issue to the full county commission for review but does not carry the budget committee’s recommendation pro or con.
Background
In May 2006, the local legislative body voted to change its frequency of regular meetings during a calendar year. The change, which went into effect in July 2006, provides for 10 regular meetings a year — once a month — with no meetings in February and December.
At Monday’s meeting, the issue surfaced during discussion of possible ways to save taxpayer money. It was asserted that reverting to bimonthly meetings would save the county about $16,000 a year. There are 21 county commissioners; each is paid $200 to attend a commission meeting.
Pro and con
Jowers opined that returning to six meetings a year would short-change good government.
County commissioner and finance committee member Jimmy Seals took an opposing viewpoint. He asserted the machinery of local government worked quite well under the old schedule.
“I’ve been on the commission since 1990, and we’ve never had a tax increase,” Seals said. “Evidently we were doing something right in (only) six meetings (a year). The only tax increase we’ve had is through reappraisal. But we never had a tax increase and borrowed money. So evidently, we were doing something right.”
Jowers said the bimonthly meetings are long, tedious and exhausting. “I looked up the records. Some of the old meetings were two and three hours long,” he said. “I don’t want these meetings to be long again. We made the change three years ago, and it’s worked out well. Shorter meetings are more productive meetings, much more productive. We have the issues explained; we get to a problem quicker.”
He said there are many times when the commission tables an issue for one reason or another and sends it back to the budget committee for further study. “It could be four months before we could review it again,” he said.
The next scheduled session of the Obion County Commission is set for 9 a.m. Aug. 17 in the Circuit Court courtroom at the Obion County Courthouse.
Published in The Messenger 8.4.09

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