Rhome City Council mulls over roles of non-residents

By Racey Burden | Published Saturday, April 15, 2017
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Rhome City Council members debated whether non-residents should be appointed to board positions Monday night.

The Parks and Recreation Board will be down to three members in May, and Chair Tommie Eason told the council there were people living in Rhome’s extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ) who were interested in joining the board.

Council members weren’t convinced they should appoint ETJ residents to board positions. Councilwoman Amanda Johnson said she felt uncomfortable giving non-residents any control over taxpayer money. The Parks and Recreation Board has a budget that is approved annually by the council.

Councilman Sam Eason pointed out that many people living in the ETJ receive police and fire protection, but they don’t pay for it through taxes.

“I think of how small our city is, and I’d like to have options,” Eason said. “Money doesn’t get spent unless we approve it.”

Johnson clarified that she felt fine with allowing non-residents to volunteer for the board, just not to be on the board itself.

“ETJs are going to be a part of the city as we start growing here,” Councilwoman Leeanne Mackowski said. “I would like to see those people start getting involved with the community.”

But, she added, she agreed they should be volunteers only, not in charge of the budget – “Our city, our money.”

Tommie Eason spoke up to say she’s searched for parks board replacements for months, and few people inside the city limits showed any interest.

Councilman Tim Robison asked, “But is it broke? If it’s not broke, we don’t need to fix it.”

“It is broke,” Tommie Eason responded.

Robison said he’d seen the parks board work with just two people, at which point Mayor Michelle Pittman interjected that three members are required for a quorum.

Pittman also mentioned the Planning and Zoning Board allowed ETJ residents to apply and said she felt that one board’s rules would need to change for consistency.

Sam Eason made a motion to allow ETJ members on the board. It died for lack of a second.

The parks board had received an application for a city resident to join, and the council unanimously approved the appointment.

The council also:

  • heard a presentation from GSBS Architects regarding municipal complex projects.
  • discussed renewing the city’s franchise agreement with Atmos Energy.
  • updated the city building codes.
  • heard a report on the rebuild at city hall. The building is structurally sound, Pittman said, and the roof is complete.
  • approved an asset forfeiture agreement with the police department.
  • approved the building of an extra room at the public works office.
  • approved moving the interest and sinking fund and fire department funds to Woodhaven Bank.

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