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Squabble over having in-person meetings may cost taxpayers
government meetings in person.jpg
McMinnville city government meetings are being held in person, but Warren County commissioners and County Executive Jimmy Haley remain divided on the topic. Pictured are McMinnville city officials at the Park Theater, from left, Mayor Ben Newman, city recorder Shirley Durham and Aldermen Everett Brock, Mike Neal and Steve Harvey. - photo by Lisa Hobbs

A standoff in Warren County government over the issue of in-person meetings will cost taxpayers $660 to end it. 

Warren County commissioners voted 18-4 in July to hold their Aug. 17 meeting in person, not via online conferencing, due to recurring difficulties in conducting business using Zoom. With that meeting less than two weeks away, County Executive Jimmy Haley has yet to provide commissioners with use of the administrative building on Locust Street.

“We’ll probably have a Zoom meeting on Aug. 11,” said Commissioner Blaine Wilcher, who is chairman of the County Commission and who has the authority to call meetings.

That special called session will be used to decide if commissioners should select an alternate meeting location, or rescind the resolution from Commissioner Steven Helton passed in July and meet via Zoom on Aug. 17.

Commissioners are paid $30 for special called sessions. If all 22 members are in attendance, the cost to taxpayers is $660. That number does not include any associated Social Security, Medicare or retirement.

Wilcher predicts Haley will win the standoff.

“I believe we will vote to reconsider Ste-ven’s motion, and I believe it will pass,” said Wilcher. “We will still have the August meeting on the 17th by Zoom. That is what I believe will happen.”

Helton said the meeting could be held at the old Morrison School building in the event Haley denies commissioners access to the administrative building. 

“I don’t feel comfortable holding the meeting on private property,” said Wilcher. 

Commissioners Helton, Gary Prater, Michael Bell, Carl D. Bouldin, Carl E. Bouldin, David Dunlap, Randy England, Steve Glenn, Robert Hennessee, Ron Lee, Gary Martin, Scott Rubley, Tommy Savage, Tyrone Sparkman, Joseph Stotts, Phillip Stout, Cole Taylor, and Wilcher voted in favor of holding in-person meetings. 

Commissioners Christy Ross, Carlene Brown, Deborah Evans and Daniel Owens voted against in-person meetings. 

Commissioners in attendance will be paid $30 for the special called session.

McMinnville officials have been meeting in person at Park Theater. Social distancing and facemasks are required.