JACKSBORO, TN. (WLAF)-An exchange between county commissioners Ralph Davis and Scott Kitts grew heated Monday night after Davis announced his plan to introduce a motion to take control of the sanitation/solid waste department away from Mayor E. L. Morton.
At the commission workshop Davis added a motion to next week’s agenda that would transfer the power to hire and fire the Director of Environmental Services from Morton to the county commission.
“We need to allow the director to do his job without looking over his shoulder,” Davis argued.
County Attorney Joe Coker agreed the commission has the discretion to approve such a motion but questioned how workable it would be, pointing out, “Who would be his supervisor? The (solid waste) committee can’t be a supervisor, the county commission would have to meet as a whole to provide oversight.”
“This is just an attempt to take the power of supervision away from the county mayor,” Kitts observed, with Coker adding, “The commission is not set up to make day to day supervisory duties. You have the legal authority to do it but some practical questions remain.”
“If you like all the crazy things that’s been happening, it’s up to you,” Davis told the other commissioners, without explaining what “crazy things” he was referring to, adding, “I don’t have the authority, and don’t want it now.”
“There will be so many committee meetings, I’ll want a raise,” Kitts said.
“You got to do something first,” Davis replied.
Commissioner Zachary Marlow then interjected, “My concern is if someone commits a fireable offense, somebody has to have the authority to suspend that person until we have a meeting.”
“From what I’ve seen, this is some confrontation going on between the mayor and Mr. Rutherford. I don’t see 15 people babysitting this guy,”
The recent flooding in LaFollette was also a topic of discussion at the workshop, several commissioners complimenting the job done by first responders and other emergency workers to evacuate people.
Morton reported the cost of damages is still being tabulated, and so far stands at around $3 million, while the threshold to kick in federal emergency funding is $9.5 million. He added that to report flood damage, citizens should call LaFollette City Hall or 423-562-4961. All damages must be tabulated by Noon on Wednesday, June 12.
Morton reported that as far as damage to county assets, the sanitation department appears to have been the hardest hit.
In a meeting with little in the way of good news, Rusty Orick was able to provide a small ray of sunshine when he reported the insurance committee has received and approved the updated insurance quotes. The health insurance for county employees will remain flat in the upcoming year with no increase in rates or coverage, while the projected change in liability insurance has been negotiated down from the previous rate.
The workshop is often dominated by members of the public who want to address the commission, but this month only one person asked to speak. Mark Smith complained that his wife had attended the workshop last month and asked commissioners to do something about a neighbor who kept a bright security light burning at night that was too bright and posed a nuisance.
Apparently someone from LaFollette Utilities Board responded to a commissioner’s request by coming out and painting a street light that was not the problem light, causing hard feelings between the Smiths and another neighbor.
Coker pointed out that the county commission has no authority over private property, including privately owned street lights. “This is a common problem when people ask the commission to address problems over which they have no authority. The only real solution in such a case is to hire an attorney and look for relief from the courts.”
Budget chairman Johnny Bruce reminded commissioners the review of the 2019-20 budget will begin on Tuesday, June 11. The committee will meet from 5:30-7 pm every Tuesday and Thursday until June 27, Bruce added, with the goal of finalizing the budget before June 30. Because the school board also meets on Tuesday, June 11, the budget meeting will be moved to the upstairs courtroom. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED 06/12/2019- 6 AM)