Bob Yates, Carl Wilson, Charlie Foust, Debbie Frazier, J Runyon, Jon Hunter, Katy Olita, Katie Gambill, Keith Lampkin, Lynn Stokes, Maria Jamenez, Mark Smith, Ray Williams
Don Jenkins, Mark Kelly
James Halford, Shelly Baggett
The Charter Commission meeting was held at the William O. Beach Civic Hall, 350 Pageant Lane, Clarksville, TN.
Call to Order
Chairman Katie Gambill called the meet to order at 10:02 a.m.
Approval of Minutes
A motion was made by J Runyon to approve the Charter Commission meeting minutes dated September 28, 2017 as presented. Seconded by Katy Olita and passed unanimously.
Mr. James Halford began the meeting by speaking about the ground rules and voting process. Member voiced concern with the vote passage being by simple majority because the city has five committee representatives and the county has ten, and would like to see passage by ¾ or 12 votes. However, it was noted this would be contrary to the statutory authority, which created the body. Chairman Gambill suggested checking into the legal aspects.
A lengthy discussion took place on the approval process for the sections and final document. Opinion was voiced that simple majority was not enough support from the commission on the final document for what the citizens were being asked to approve. Member stated he didn’t think the individual sections were bound by the votes, but like a check mark that it had been addressed and come to an agreement, but could be adjusted if additional information came to light. Chairman Gambill stated that before the charter was filed with the county clerk there had to be, by state statute, one vote on the final document and passed by a majority. Concern was voiced that if sections were not agreed upon throughout the process there would be nothing to present to the public.
Another member voiced concern with the voting regarding a simple majority – 8 members present makes a quorum, therefore, and item would pass with 5 votes, or was it a simple majority of 15 member and any item must pass with 8 votes. Mr. Halford questioned how they wanted to vote; sections by non-binding informal vote of simple majority of those members present? Member suggested not voting on committee items but voicing opinions, however, Chairman Gambill stated there would be nothing to communicate with the public. In order to move forward with today’s agenda the following motion came forward.
A motion was made by Jon Hunter to defer the voting process discussion pending clarification of the statutory requirements. Seconded by Katy Olita and passed by majority, with one (1) nay vote.
Ms. Katy Olita had sent a copy of the school consolidation charter to members by email, see attachment. It was established in 1964 and currently governs the operation of the school system and needs to be included as part of the new government charter. Chairman Gambill suggested the school charter be referenced in the new charter because the new charter can only be changed by referendum and not prohibit the school system from making changes in their by-laws.
A motion was made by Bob Yates to approve the school charter section as recommended by the school committee. Seconded by J Runyon.
In discussion member asked about tax rate approval and options the school system had if not approved by commission; those options would be to adjust the budget or go to referendum. The 1964 school charter was being incorporated by reference into the consolidated charter. It was believed the 1964 school charter could only be changed by referendum. However, concern was voiced with the code of ethics for the school system. Mrs. Olita informed there was a statute that governed the ethics of schools, teachers, and school board. School board was governed by a set of board governance policies that prevent conflict of interest, etc. and can be found on the school website. She further stated by the information gathered the school system was pro consolidation and some issues they had would be fixed by consolidated government – like zoning and the effects of zoning.
Chairman Gambill talked about the city charter containing many references to other things like city ordinances, code of ethics, schools, etc., and those items need the ability to be changed when things occur. Member voiced concern with the commission/council being able to vote and change code of ethics that applies to the school board.
Mr. Bob Yates called for question to end discussion, was seconded by Carl Wilson, and passed by majority by show of hands, with two (2) nay votes.
Vote on original motion to approve the school charter section as recommended by the school committee passed by majority, with one (1) nay vote.
Katy Olita provided a report from the judicial sub-committee, see attachment, which reviewed the operations of the general sessions court, municipal court of the City of Clarksville, and made a recommendation as to unification. She reported the committee met with the general sessions judges and City Judge Charles Smith. Judge Barnes, juvenile court judge, was not able to meet. Notes of meetings and additional knowledge gained about the courts was included, see attachment.
She gave a brief overview of the divisions of general sessions court and the City of Clarksville municipal court’s limited jurisdiction dealing mostly with violations of city ordinances (traffic and building & codes). She reported the general sessions judges were fully aware of having to handle the traffic duties and they would like to have another judge, which would involve logistics, administrative work, and new associated costs.
The new proposed charter would include language to have a consolidated court of general sessions and those employees who handle traffic citations, including the clerk, shall be entitled to transfer to the office of the new consolidated court. The new proposed charter would state that traffic fines would still be assessed and collected as they were currently done. A brief discussion took place about violations being an urban or state citation, associated court costs, and revenue, as defined by current ordinance. History data was provided regarding the city court, see attachment.
It was the recommendation of the Judicial Committee that the municipal court of the City of Clarksville be consolidated with the general session court of Montgomery County upon the expiration of the term of the current municipal court judge, which was December 31, 2020.
Education platform and information – Chairman Gambill talked about hiring a firm to help plan a strategy to educate the public to get the charter passed, and the need for a PAC to raise money for that purpose. She suggested the executive committee interview firms and make recommendations to the commission. Member stated it was unknown what consolidated government looks like because the charter had not been passed. He suggested to wait until it was known to hire someone to educate the public on the charter. Chairman Gambill stated it was too late to educate at that point. Another member felt it was a multiple prong type approach; to educate based on the knowledge accumulated and report feedback to the commission.
A motion was made by Katy Olita to allow the executive committee to gather information and review potential firms to assist with the education of the charter platform. Seconded by Maria Jimenez and passed by majority, with one (1) nay vote.
Committee update – Jon Hunter reported on two articles in the proposed charter – the chief executive role/ authority and the legislative body. Committee met with both mayors, who believe they should not be voting members, but needs the authority to govern, propose the budget, should have veto authority, needs all the tools to govern, be a strong executive, no interest in a city or county manager, and the mayor should be the administrator of departments with the exception of elected officials. He reported those views did not differ much from the previous charter vision.
Mr. Hunter reported the legislative body will probably be more complex. The previous charter used the county commission and Mayor McMillan suggested looking at something different to represent those it governs. The sub-committee plans to review and maybe offer three (3) options based on analysis of pros and cons. Value of at large representation was highly stressed by both the county and city.
Plans were to get this done early in the process, however, because of the complexity it may take more time to analyze data, especially on districts, to make an informed decision before going to vote. Member voiced concern with trying to get daily business done and one executive physically not begin able to handle. Other member talked about there being a city manager who takes care of day to day operations. Working with elected officials was a major part of the process and it was noted that a minority had not been elected in those positions.
Citizens Committee – Chairman Gambill reminded member to send names to Mark Kelly for the citizens committee. She also informed them City Council member Deanna McLaughlin and County Commissioner Jason Hodges had volunteered to hold a public meeting. She felt a questionnaire was needed to be consistent at all public meetings.
Chairman Gambill met with the ministerial association and reported on the charter structure, and they were very supportive.
Bob Yates, as Chairman of the General Provision Committee, asked that other committees report any impediments that might be addressed right away. Carl Wilson reported the Utilities Committee had some overlap with department and needs to coordinate. Charlie Foust reported the Board & Departments Committee had met twice and it would be a challenge to have their report ready by December due to overlap of information. Debbie Frazier advised the Personnel Management committee had received permission to talk with the County HR director to collect data.
The next meeting date was set for November 21, 2017.
With no further business before the Charter Commission, the meeting was properly adjourned.
Katie Gambill, Chairman Charter Commission
Shelly Baggett, Administrative Assistant
County Mayor’s Office