No Decision Has Been Made

That's how Mayor Matt Brookshire summed up the nearly hour long meeting of the personal committee meeting Monday. The main subject of the meeting was to discuss what council would pay the new treasurer/recorder after the November election. The charter states that the council will set the compensation for the treasurer/recorder. There has been speculation that some wanted to cut the pay. Bobby Johnson Jr. was the only candidate to qualify for the position and will assume the position shortly after the election.

Several possibilities for the pay scale were discussed with most members of the committee agreeing that the pay should be the same range as other city department heads. It was noted that at the time of her retirement former treasurer/recorder, Debbie Cook's pay was at $63,411.00 and current interim treasurer/recorder receives approximately $50,000.00.

Much of the meeting was taken with discussions about who will be in charge of the city court clerk position. Earlier this year, based on erroneous information provided by city judge, Terry Vann, the council gave the judge control of the city court clerk position. However the charter clearly gives the treasurer/recorder jurisdiction as the city court clerk. Lenoir City attorney, Shannon Littleton suggested the city could ask for an opinion from the state's attorney general for clarification on who should control the city court clerk position.

The committee decided to wait till they receive the AG's opinion to hold the next meeting to decide on a recommendation on the pay for the treasurer/recorder.   

By the way, the meeting was moved to the council room to accommodate all those in attendance.

Lenoir City seeks counsel

Opinion wanted on how to handle potential conflict

By Hugh G. Willett,

LENOIR CITY - The Lenoir City Council will seek an outside legal opinion on how to handle a potential conflict between an appointed court clerk and soon-to-be-elected clerk/treasurer/recorder Bobby Johnson Jr.

City attorney Shannon Littleton on Monday recommended to the City Council personnel committee that it seek an opinion from either the state attorney general or a judgment from chancery court to help decide if a state law giving a local judge the right to appoint his own clerk overrules the city charter.

Johnson, who is running unopposed for the position of clerk/treasurer/recorder on the November ballot, has said repeatedly that he intends to assume all the duties of the office as specified in the city charter.

A majority of voters rejected a charter change on the August ballot that would have made the position of treasurer/recorder appointed by City Council instead of elected.

The city charter also states that the treasurer/recorder shall be clerk of courts. An interim recorder/treasurer has been filling the position since longtime Clerk/Recorder/Treasurer Debbie Cook resigned in April 2007.

Johnson, who works for the city's parks and recreation department, said he is also looking to be paid the same as Cook and be able to transfer his current city benefits and pension plan.

"What the voters told me is to go by what the charter says and that's what I'm going to do," Johnson said.

The current court clerk was appointed by Lenoir City Judge Terry Vann earlier this year in what some considered a violation of the city charter.

Vann cited the Municipal Court Reform Act of 2004, which states that notwithstanding any law or provision to the contrary, the city judge shall appoint a clerk of courts.

The committee was addressing the question of pay for the treasurer/recorder when Councilman Douglas "Buddy" Hines asked whether the position would include clerk of courts.

Littleton at first said he was confident that the reform act provided the necessary authorization for Judge Vann's appointment of his own clerk. But after repeated questions from Hines, Littleton said it might be better to get an outside legal opinion.

"The voters elected me to the same position they elected Debbie Cook. I've been out talking to the voters, they're tired of having things shoved down their throats," Johnson said.