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O'Neal suggests term limits for county appointments

Commissioner Dwight O’Neal addressed members of the county’s Policy and Personnel Committee proposing a resolution establishing a policy that sets term limits on appointments by the Warren County Commission.
O’Neal is referring to the Airport Zoning Committee, four-year term; the Airport Board of Zoning Appeals, four-year term; the Board of Equalization, two-year term; Industrial Development Board, six-year term; and the Warren County Memorial Airport Commission, four-year term.
He is asking the people who are appointed to these committees not be appointed to consecutive terms.
O’Neal said, “There are lots of young people who do not have a chance to serve on these committees because of such long terms. All of the terms are staggered. But, they are long, some are four- and six-year terms. Some people have been sitting 10, 12 up to 30 years. That’s what I’ve been looking at.”
The resolution says limiting terms would allow more people in the community to serve and would provide for “fresh thinking and new ideas.”
Commissioner Wayne Copeland said, “It is hard to find people to serve on some of the committees. People aren’t flogging to be on them. They don’t pay much, if anything. We had one on the Airport Commission that we had to ask to serve again because no one else wanted to. I think we need to advertise and make sure we have people who want to serve before we clean out the committee.”
Commissioner Charles Morgan said, “I hear people complaining about the Industrial Development Board and the Zoning Committee. The same guys have been on those boards forever. It seems as though we are stuck in a rut. The same guys keep making the same decisions.”
County Executive John Pelham said, “Tommy Foster and Greg Brock have not been on the IDB long. We have put in new people. Also, we need new people on the Equalization Board. One member passed away and Joe Bob Basham resigned. I am certainly not against new people serving, but a lot can be said for knowledge and experience.
“Some of the committee’s duties are complex. The IDB owns buildings and has them in their name. There is a lot of money flowing through that committee. It is very, very complicated,” said Pelham.
When questioned as to why he wants to limit members to one term, O’Neal said, “They can be reappointed. This just gives the opportunity for new blood. We’ve got youth in the county. By youth, I mean 30s and 40s. How do we get them involved in the community and staying in the area if they can’t serve?”
Commissioner Ken Martin said, “It take years for county commissioners to learn what is going on in some committees. I would think it would be the same for those committees. I think change should come from within the committees.”
Morgan said, “I don’t think there would ever be a change if you do that.”
Copeland asked, “Can we advertise and say, for instance, ‘The term of Mr. Whoever is about to expire. If you are interested in serving on that committee, please let it be known.’”
Committee members agreed advertising for the open spot would be beneficial.
“I would feel better if you changed it to two terms instead of one. With one term, it would be like a revolving door,” said Copeland.
O’Neal decided to shelve the resolution at this time pending further study.
Members present at the meeting were Martin, Copeland, Morgan and George Smartt. Kenneth Rogers was absent.


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