BY DAVID FISHER
DRESDEN (September 20) — During the September 20 meeting of the Weakley County Commission, members discussed differing legal opinions regarding the eligibility of an elected public official to continue representing a voting district after moving to another district within the county.
The issue was raised by County Attorney Allison Whitledge, who announced that District 5 School Board member Kim Longacre had moved out of her district, and following a September 1 opinion issued by the State Attorney General, the position would have to be declared vacant. Whitledge pointed out that Longacre moved from District 5 to District 8, which is currently represented on the School Board by John Hatler.
Director of Schools Randy Frazier informed the Commission that the Tennessee School Board Association has a different opinion. He said “Ms. Longacre contacted me back in November and said, ‘I am purchasing a house outside of my district where I currently live in Martin, and don’t know what to do about my board position.’ So, immediately, I called TSBA in Nashville and spoke to their attorney, who stated, as long as she doesn’t move outside of the county, she can complete her term. But, at the end of her term, if she wants to run for re-election, she must do so in her new district.”
Frazier said, “When she went in to register to vote last week, the election commission called attention to this.” Frazier noted, while he was at a conference recently, he learned other school systems across the state are allowing school board members in the same situation to complete their terms. Frazier said state law contradicts itself on this issue and this is why legal counsel was sought to determine the appropriate course of action.
Following a brief discussion, the Commission voted to follow the opinion of the Attorney General and declare the position vacant.
The County Commission will make an appointment to the District 5 School Board position when it meets in November.
Commissioners approved a budget resolution amending the General Purpose School Fund for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2022, which transfers $242,771 out of fund balance to provide additional monies in support of Weakley County Schools.
Of this amount, $92,771 is needed to cover revenue lost at athletic events, due to COVID-19.
The resolution also provides $150,000 in additional revenue for improvements to Westview High School’s fieldhouse and for HVAC upgrades. This reduces the fund balance in the General Purpose School Fund from $6,450,354 to $6,207,583.
A resolution authorizing a road addition for the Weakley County Highway Department for the Fiscal Year ending June 30, 2022, also received commission approval. A portion of River Birch Lane is located in the city limits of Greenfield and the remainder of the road continues another 775 feet into the county. This section of River Birch Lane connects to Highway 124 headed toward McKenzie. The newly-added county road will be maintained by the Weakley County Highway Department.
In other board action, commissioners approved the Fiscal Strength and Efficient Government Fiscal Confirmation Letter, outlining the ThreeStar Program requirements for the Weakley County Chamber of Commerce. The ThreeStar Program has provided millions of dollars in grant funding over the past several years to Weakley County. By meeting the requirements of the ThreeStar Program, the county will continue to be eligible for future grants.
Elections, Appointments and Confirmations
In board elections, County Mayor Jake Bynum was re-elected chairman, and Commissioner Dennis Doster was elected chairman pro-tempore.
The commission also approved the election of notaries public.
Mayor Bynum announced the next meeting of the Weakley County Commission is scheduled to take place on Monday, November 15, beginning at 5:30 p.m.