City manager study begins

According to the resolution, City Attorney Andy Wright “is directed to prepare a listing of needed Charter changes and other legal actions that are necessary to change to a city manager form of government by Nov. 16, 2010.”

City Commissioner of Finance Russell Lee is required to “survey other city manager cities and prepare a listing of compensations, terms of office, duties, authority given, qualifications, termination provisions and any other available information necessary.”

Currently 78 cities in Tennessee use the council-manager form of government, including Mt. Juliet. The resolution authorized City Mayor Philip Craighead, Wright, Lee and the council to contact the Tennessee Association of City Managers for their assistance, input and other information.

According to information from the California City Management Foundation and International City/County Management Association, the city-manager is the fastest growing form of government in the United States. “It frees up the elected body to establish policy, which is carried out by an appointed manager and an administrative staff.”

A city manager acts “much like a business organization’s chief executive officer” says the CCMF and ICCMA. The Council would choose the manager based on his/her professional experience, education and training. The manager would not be an elected official and could be removed from the position at the discretion of the council because he or she serves no term limit.

Kathy Warmath, who represents Ward 6, reiterated the fact that this resolution only authorized the city government to study this new form of government. The information Wright and Lee compile in their study of what would be needed if the change is to occur, will be presented to the council on Nov. 16.

Warmath asked for Wright and Lee to look into other cities and to see which ones adopted this new form of government through a referendum and what problems some of them may have faced during the transition from a “strong mayor” to council-manager.

Also during the meeting, the council voted unanimously on its first reading to adopt a new Title 10, Chapter 2 of the Animal Control ordinance of the Lebanon Municipal Charter.

During the council’s work session prior to the meeting, several wording changes were added to Wright’s rewritten ordinance to create more clarity in the law that has been a hot topic of debate in recent months.

According to changes, the city will hold impounded dogs for duration of “10 calendar days,” which the council agreed was okay. Warmath had expressed concerns to Wright about the state law being only three days. She said someone’s dog could get loose while they were on vacation as a hypothetical situation and said three days isn’t long enough to hold the dog and give the owners adequate time to respond.

The ordinance requires police officers to respond to calls of disturbance due to dogs and Ward 1 Aldeman Alex Buhler expressed concerns about the effectiveness that the police would enforce the law.

“If they are called, then they need to respond,” Buhler said referring to the police. “If they’re working a wreck or something, you don’t pull them off,” he continued, but said on any normal day, they need to respond when called.

The new ordinance also fines owners of dogs that are disturbing others $50 for each day they are not in compliance with the law, and it also creates a strict record-keeping process that will allow authorities to identify repeat offenders.

Following his progress report to the County Commission on Monday night, Director of Wilson County Schools Mike Davis delivered the same report to the City Council Tuesday night.

Davis said the trees, that can be seen in the aerial photograph appearing in Wednesday’s edition of The Wilson Post, that run through the center of the property will divide the campus in a pleasing way.

The sports facilities will be separated from the school building by these trees and the stream there.

Also, Davis asked the council to waive or defer the sewer and water fees pertaining to the new Lebanon High School that he says the county and city have waived in the past. “I’d like you to take that under your consideration,” Davis said.

The current sewer project the council approved to continue at the meeting will serve the new LHS when it is completed. The sewer will also help alleviate sewer and water issues in the Byars Dowdy Elementary area, particularly Center Street.