New county regulations that place term limits on several boards will begin to take effect in the coming months.
The county’s term-limit restrictions impact the Industrial Development Board, the Board of Equalization, and three boards that serve Warren County Airport. Any county representative on one of those five boards can only serve one term. The person is still eligible to serve in the future, but terms cannot be consecutive.
The first two people impacted by this new rule will be Industrial Development Board members Jeff Golden and Greg Brock. Their terms are set to expire in October.
County Executive John Pelham says he will make recommendations about who he would like to fill those positions to the county’s Economic and Agricultural Development Committee chaired by Les Trotman. Pelham says he has a short list of names at this point.
“When bringing prospects into the community and taking into account the questions that those prospects normally ask, I’d like to have board members in place who can answer those questions,” said Pelham. “I’d like to have somebody on board who is in that field who can answer the question and not have to say, ‘We’ll get back to you.’”
Pelham noted education is always a prominent question when industrial representatives visit a community. Harmony between city and county governments is also a common question.
Pelham said he will probably make recommendations next month and he thinks the candidates selected in committee will go before the full Warren County Commission in October.
Pelham said he has split feelings on whether the idea of term limits is a positive move for the community and he is hopeful the idea can be revisited.
“The principle is to get new people involved and I understand that,” said Pelham. “But at the same time, if you have a board that’s functioning well with a tremendous amount of knowledge that’s been gained through experience, it’s hard to replace that. I didn’t support this and I’m concerned about the mandate forcing us to change when there’s no need to change.”
The Board of Equalization, which deals with property tax values, is also impacted by term limits. That board has one city representative, Jim Brock, and four county representatives, A.C. Witt Jr., Randal Hitchcock, Mike Witherspoon and Mike Elam.
Pelham said the county representatives serve two-year terms and those terms are not staggered. That means the board will have 80 percent turnover every two years.
“I certainly don’t think that was the intent,” said Pelham. “This is a board which does get compensation, but it meets the entire month in June and it meets during the day. You’d almost have to have someone who is retired who would be able to give up an entire month.”
The city has considered term limits for members of its appointed boards but has yet to take any action.