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County rejects state request to dissolve jail committee

A recommendation by the state that Warren County government dissolve its County Corrections Partnership Committee has been formally rejected.

The full Warren County Commission met and voted to change the designation of County Corrections Partnership from a special committee – set only to achieve a specific objective – to a permanent standing committee.

While not on the docket for consideration, Commissioner Scott Rubley made a motion to amend the docket to “address standing and special committee classifications” and the recommendation was unanimously approved.

When the measure came up for consideration, Commissioner Blaine Wilcher excused himself as chairman of the commission and made a motion to change the distinction of both County Corrections and Redistricting Committee from special to standing and that members of those committees be paid when they do meet.

“County Corrections Partnership has chosen to go dormant and they will remain dormant,” said Wilcher. “There are two committees that are mentioned in with all our committees, which are standing, and those are the County Corrections Partnership and the Redistricting Committee. Those two committees are not standing.”

Commissioner Daniel Owens objected.

“The redistricting, I’ll go there first, was addressed and our county attorney did state that it is a special committee,” said Owens. “Second of all, the county corrections was a partnership with TCI and TCI’s director Mr. (Bob) Bass said that this committee should dissolve and our commissioners should focus on something else. Therefore, I believe the commission should hold off on this.”

Wilcher replied the county is within its legal right to change a committee’s designation and not dissolve a committee, if it so chooses.

Commissioner Gary Prater said he’s against disbanding the committee.

“We can keep this committee,” said Prater. “It’s dormant, but it can be a standing committee. Yes, they will be paid. That would be up to us to vote for it. We don’t have to totally destroy this committee – wad it up and throw it in the trashcan and say it’s not needed anymore. It might be needed next year. We don’t have to do away with it.”

Commissioners Robert Hennessee and Carlene Brown questioned Wilcher’s motives.

“I don’t fully understand the direction that you are going with this if you’re getting paid for it already,” said Hennessee. “Why is there a difference in making that a standing committee versus a special committee? I don’t know what your directive is.”

Brown stated, “It just feels like there’s something else underlying here as a reason for doing it. If you say there’s not and it’s something that you want, then we should vote on it, but I really would like to delay this until next month.”

Commission members voted 14-9 in favor of both the County Corrections Partnership Committee and Redistricting Committee being deemed standing committees and for those committees to be dormant until needed.

Voting in favor of the move were Commissioners Carl D. Bouldin, Carl E. Bouldin, Randy England, Steven Helton, Brad Hillis, Tommy Savage, Tyrone Sparkman, Joseph Stotts, Phillip Stout, Cole Taylor, David Dunlap, Wilcher, Prater and Rubley.

Voting against it were Commissioners Michael Bell, Deborah Evans, Steve Glenn, Gary Martin, Daniel Owens, Kasey Owens, Christy Ross, Brown and Hennessee.

Commissioner Ron Lee was absent.

County attorney Robert Bratcher said changes are typically presented in the form of written resolutions beforehand.

Per the Rules and Regulating Procedures of the Warren County Legislative Body adopted in November, resolutions must be considered in committee before being presented to the full Warren County Commission.

Bratcher discouraged future instances of commissioners bypassing committee consideration on resolutions as Wilcher did.

“I think it passed but we will have to reduce it to writing to make it a formal resolution,” said Bratcher. “In the future, any motion that’s going to change these procedural rules needs to be reduced to writing beforehand so they can be reviewed by the commission.”