Lenoir City initiative must wait

Any changes to position can't be put to voters until 2008

Hugh G. Willett
Saturday, November 17, 2007

Lenoir City officials will have to wait until November 2008 to place an initiative on the ballot that would change the city recorder/treasurer from an elected position to one appointed by city council.

The position has been decided by election since the Lenoir City charter was written a century ago.

The city council canceled a special called meeting Thursday night after learning from the Loudon County Election Commission that a home rule municipality can only make changes to its charter during a general election.

The city council had planned to put the question, as well as several other changes recommended by a charter review committee, on the February primary ballot, city administrator Dale Hurst said.

"The city attorney has confirmed we can only put charter questions on the November ballot," Hurst said.

The Lenoir City government did not request an opinion on the subject when officials first proposed making the change, Loudon County election commissioner Dana Zehner said.

After receiving questions from several citizens, Zehner said she contacted the University of Tennessee's Municipal Technical Advisory Service for an opinion.

Zehner said Wednesday she had a conversation with Lenoir City attorney Shannon Littleton earlier this week informing him of the regulations regarding changes to the charter.

Even though passage of the charter amendment would make the position an appointed one, Zehner said the post still must go on the November 2008 ballot.

"If the initiative to make the position appointed passes, the elected position would be dissolved within 60 days after the election and the council would appoint the new treasurer," Zehner said.

The position of treasurer/recorder in Lenoir City is currently filled by Maggie Hunt, who was appointed by city council in April after the resignation of longtime treasurer/recorder Debbie Cook.

Cook, who said she believes voters are smart enough to pick the proper candidate for the position, has also suggested that members of Lenoir City government have been trying to gain control of the treasurer/recorder position.

Cook resigned the position in April after claiming harassment from city officials.