Loudon votes for city manager’s retirement

Heidi Lara News-Herald.net

Councilman Dennis Stewart made a motion for Mills to vacate his position, while the city continues looking for a replacement.

Councilman Lynn Millsaps originally motioned to keep Mills in the current position, but the motion failed for lack of a second.

“He indicated that his retirement was coming this year,” Jim Greenway, Loudon City mayor, said after approaching Mills earlier this year. “Then he sat down with council and made them aware. We then started to do a preliminary search until Lynn let me know he changed his mind. I’ve been trying to think of how to approach this.”
“I gave you an off-the-cuff answer,” Mills said in response to Greenway. “My health is getting better and my doctors have encouraged me to stay active. That’s what I want to do is stay active. I would like to probably work through next year. Maybe longer.”
Stewart said Monday that his biggest issue involves the bickering back and forth between city departments. Mills responded that employees are doing the best they can with limited resources.
Planning for the long-term needs of the city is council’s most important job right now, Councilman Johnny James said.
Millsaps said he believes Mills’ retirement should be his decision.
Mills could not be reached for additional comment Tuesday morning.
“It’s a difficult task,” James said in a follow-up interview. “It’s not just any one thing. I don’t know what to say because I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to comment on it. Lynn has bone cancer and he’s lost one leg to it. He told us in the inset that he was going to retire at the end of the year. I don’t know if you understand when you run a government, you don’t plan for tomorrow.

 When you’re working day to day, you can’t do that. We just felt like if something happened — if his health turned — and I hope it doesn’t. I don’t wish that on anyone. We would be without a city manager. We know how important it would be to not let it happen.

“I think what a lot of people misunderstood is we’re not trying to force him to retire,” James added. “What we’re trying to do is not have this ambiguous situation. That’s what we’re trying to do is eliminate the unknown. We’re trying to plan for a date. We’ve had dates and they’ve come and gone. That’s the only issue. As far as his performance, I don’t have any issue with it. You can’t let friendship, or I won’t let friendship, supersede my better judgment. I have to listen to my constituents.”
James wants a timeline put in place after watching the situation go back and forth for nearly two years.
“I fear the unknown,” James said. “What someone else has in mind, they can tell you. We’re not saying tomorrow or the first of the year. I’d like to see something worked out. If he does that, I’m a happy camper. I’ll vote to accept that and we’ll come out at the end. The ball is in his court.”
City attorney Joe Ford asked for a new motion for the position to be vacated subject to negotiations. During the next meeting in December, a proposal will be discussed and voted on to determine if the motion passes.
In other business, council:
Approved the low fuel bid from Rogers Petroleum Inc., for $12,392.52, with $1.6095 for unleaded-plus gasoline and $1.4752 for low-sulfur, undyed diesel.
Amended the Loudon Municipal Code Section 17-105 to allow use of 96-gallon garbage cans as long as cans are purchased from the city of Loudon and the truck can safely access the site.
Amended the 2016-17 fiscal year budget for a $2,000 donation to the East Tennessee Foundation, the expenditure and reimbursement of the vehicle extrication cutters from the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation Grant, $20,000 for the purchase of 295 96-gallon garbage cans and a $5,000 expenditure and reimbursement of a radar trailer for the police department.
Authorized contributing $2,000 as seed money for the Loudon County branch of the East Tennessee Foundation. After being approved and advertised last month, it needed approval a second time because of being a donation.
Prohibited parking on a section of the southwest side of Highway 72 North per request from the owner of Over the Hill Grill for the safety of his customers.
Denied executing contracts with the Tennessee Department of Transportation for funding of the repaving of Blair Bend Road after lack of a second to the motion.
Denied authorizing Urban Engineering to complete proposed drainage improvements in the Poplar and Church street areas after lack of a motion.
Authorized the purchase of 265 96-gallon Toter carts for $20,000 for usage in specified areas.
Approved an even trade of a 2016 Ford F250 for a 2017 Ford F250 as part of the vehicle replacement program with Jacky Jones Ford Lincoln Mercury.
Amended fees for the Loudon Parks and Recreation Lions Club Pavilion to increase from $80 for five hours to $120 for 12 hours of usage.
Authorized the purchase and installation of 24 light emitting diode lights at Liberty Park and Legion Park for $20,016. The cost for labor will be $4,750, with $1,000 in miscellaneous material bringing the total cost to $25,766.
Accepted the Tennessee Highway Safety Grant of $5,000 to purchase a radar trailer for the police department.