Lenoir City Council agrees to accept city recorder's resignation By HUGH G. WILLETT, knoxnews.com
March 27, 2007

LENOIR CITY - The Lenoir City Council voted unanimously and with little discussion Monday night to accept the resignation of city recorder-treasurer Debbie Cook.

Cook's resignation on Friday came as such a surprise that some of the council members said they still had not seen the resignation letter.

Lenoir City Mayor Matt Brookshire said filling the position is a high priority and he hopes to make a recommendation for an interim recorder-treasurer within two weeks.

Brookshire said he was surprised at Cook's sudden departure and could not understand the reference to "malice and discontent" in City Hall that Cook described in her resignation letter.

"I'm not really sure what she was referring to," he said. "We continued to work well together right up until her resignation."

With no time to add the matter to the official agenda prior to Monday's meeting, City Attorney Shannon Littleton moved to place the acceptance of Cook's resignation and the issue of payment of her retirement benefits on the agenda.

"The resignation is not official until the council accepts the resignation," Littleton said.

After voting unanimously to accept the resignation, the council discussed the issue of benefits, including unpaid sick leave and vacation.

Councilman Eddie Simpson asked whether it was appropriate to make cash payments to elected officials for sick leave, pointing out that a recent audit of the Lenoir City Utilities Board by the state comptroller's office had questioned the practice.

"She's entitled," said Councilman Gene "Blackie" Johnson. "She worked for the city 33 years. I think she ought to be fully vested."

Littleton said that there was precedent for the payment, and the motion passed unanimously.

Council members present Monday declined to comment on Cook's resignation or the charges she made about a negative atmosphere in City Hall since her feud with City Court Judge Terry Vann over collection of fines.

Reached at home, Cook said she was pleased that the council accepted her resignation but was confused as to why the question of paying her benefits was raised.

"They never asked any questions about anybody else's benefits before," she said.