A turbulent effort by McMinnville officials to separate duties within the city Finance Department seems to be nearing an end.
The Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted 6-1 to approve a measure that will separate the two positions of treasurer and recorder. Being an ordinance, a second passing read is required. Alderman Zach Sutton provided the only dissenting vote.
The ordinance also allows the city Finance Committee to maintain oversight over the Finance Department.
In recent months, officials have debated, sometimes heatedly, an effort to split the job responsibilities of Finance Department director into the two positions and establish job descriptions for those with the treasurer as department director.
A bone of contention has been a power struggle, that being which entity oversees the positions of treasure and recorder. Current city code states that the recorder reports to the Finance Committee. However, when the office of city administrator was created by ordinance, it established that all department directors should report to that individual.
This new ordinance states:
“The offices of city recorder and treasurer is hereby placed under the supervision of the Finance Committee of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. The recorder and treasurer shall be accountable to the Finance Committee for all matters relating to the operation and maintenance of the office.”
Mayor Ryle Chastain and Alderman Zach Sutton made their beliefs known that departmental oversight should be given to the city administrator. However, all other board members advocated for continued committee oversight and against the Finance Department being under the purview of the city administrator.
Sutton suggested a “hybrid solution” with a three-member subcommittee comprised of city administrator, human resource officer and Finance Committee chair.
The recommendation gained no support, not even from Chastain, “I don’t support that. I think it convolutes things. I think it further complicates things – to have a subcommittee of an already existing committee. I’ve already said my peace that I feel it should report to the city administrator. I’ll make that motion to amend, even though I do not think it will pass.”
Chastain’s instinct was correct. The motion to amend the ordinance to reflect that the treasurer and recorder report to the city administrator and not Finance Committee members, failed with a vote of 5-2. Chastain gained support from Sutton.
The ordinance, as presented with Finance Committee members providing oversight of the Finance Department, was approved 6-1. Chastain, Vice Mayor Everett Brock, Aldermen Sally Brock, Stacey Harvey, Steve Harvey and Rachel Kirby voted in favor.
Back in January, Shirley Durham voluntarily assumed the role of recorder and relinquished her position as director. Samantha Moore was appointed as interim director.
During a Finance Committee meeting held just prior to this full board session, Everett stated his intent to remove the word “interim” from Moore’s title and questioned if the committee could take steps toward that effort or must they wait until the ordinance is approved by the full board.
City attorney Tim Pirtle quoted the ordinance which states that the authority to elect the treasurer lies with the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, not the Finance Committee, once the new ordinance is approved by two readings.