At least one County resident is ready to form a new government for Loudon County, and he has state law on his side.
On his web site, Loudon Home Rule, Loudon County resident Wayne Schnell is proposing to establish a Charter form of government and is circulating petitions to get 2,500 signatures to begin the process. There may be other members of the Home Rule organization but Mr. Schnell's is the only name associated with the web site.
Schnell, who lives in the sixth district, has attended some County Commission and School Board meetings, usually to raise concerns about particular issues. He is also a board member of the local Tea Party organization, Cross County Patriots. This is not Mr. Schnell's first petition drive; back in 2011, Schnell and a couple of others started a petition drive to essentially stop the building of a new school in Greenback.
State law allows for the process of changing to a Charter form of government, but the process is long and complicated. The first step in the process is to gain the needed petition signatures. While the petition is calling for 2,500, the fact is he only needs around 1,500 to comply with the legal requirements.
If and when the needed signatures are received and certified by the election commission, an election would be held to elect members to a Charter Commission. Schnell's petition is calling for a 21-member commission, three members from each county legislative district. After those 21 Charter commissioners are elected, the Charter Commission would then develop their proposal for the way county government would operate in many instances.
Schnell's web site lays out at least some of the changes he hopes to accomplish in what he calls the "TAXPAYER’S (CITIZEN’S) BILL OF RIGHTS," [all sic’d]:
After the Charter Commission develops their recommendations for the Charter form of government, the proposal would go to the voters for an up or down vote. On Schnell's web site, he states that he hopes to have a vote to elect the 21 members to the Charter Commission on the August, 2014 election. That means the actual vote on the proposed changes wouldn't come before the 2016 election cycle.
If the Charter Commission is approved by the voters, the County Commission is required to provide funding for the Charter Commission up to $50,000.00
On its face, the idea of changing the style of local government would seem to have a certain appeal, but change just for the sake of change isn't always a good idea. We're living with one form of hope and change now, and that's been a disaster.
County commissioners will discuss the matter with CTAS representatives at their March 4th commission meeting.
We'll watch as this story develops and see if this is really an attempt to make positive change or if this is just some folks with an ax to grind.
I'll keep you posted.