The Tullahoma Board of Mayor and Aldermen is expected to formally request to the county commission that certain requirements be placed on who may serve on the board of directors of the Public Building authority (PBA) at its next meeting tomorrow night.

The resolution, should it pass, would formally request to both Coffee County Mayor Gary Cordell and the 21-member Coffee County Commission that a new requirement be added to how appointments are made to the PBA.

According to Resolution No. 1785, state law dictates that groups such as the PBA have at least seven directors and that the county commission has the authority to confirm the appointments recommended by the county mayor. There is not, however, any requirement “as to the places of residence of any of said directors” to the PBA.

In order to ensure Tullahoma has fair representation on the board of directors of the PBA, the resolution states the city and city board “hereby requests that the county mayor henceforth recommend to [the] county commission and that the county commission approve the appointment of no less than two electors of the city of Tullahoma.”

The resolution also requests “that this practice shall become a requirement for the appointment of directors hereafter by the enactment of the appropriate legislation or resolution by the county commission.”

During the previous city board meeting, on Feb. 11, Tullahoma City Attorney Steve Worsham explained this is a mechanism the city can use to “ask the County Commission to consider establishing a procedure for making sure that at least two Tullahoma residents are members of that building authority.”

 “Sometimes, people on the county commission seem to forget that people that live in Tullahoma are also Coffee Countians,” he said during the meeting.

 

History of the dispute

The reasoning for the resolution stems from a months-long dispute over who can legally appoint members to the PBA board of directors.

Back in September, the PBA directors instituted a controversial bylaws change that altered the representation of the board itself, a move that several state-level consulting agencies have called improper and incorrect.

Prior to the bylaws change, it was the policy of the PBA to have seven directors representing the three major caucuses of the county – two directors each for Tullahoma, Manchester and rural Coffee County – as well as one at-large member. The bylaws change then sought to allow three members appointed by the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen and let the remaining four seats be appointed from anywhere in the county by the county commission.

Both the County Technical Advisory Service and the Municipal Technical Advisory Service, which provide consulting services to county and city governments, respectively, have weighed in on the matter. They both confirmed to the county and to the Manchester city government that only the Coffee County Commission has the power to confirm appointments made by Coffee County Mayor Gary Cordell. The PBA cannot change the membership of its own board of directors, the agencies said.

 

What’s next?

The city board will vote on the resolution at its meeting tomorrow night, beginning at 5:30 inside the board chambers room at city hall. After the vote is confirmed, notarized copies will be filed with the city and furnished to the appropriate county officials, according to a memo on the resolution.

Erin McCullough may be reached at emccullough@tullahomanews.com.