Zach Lowry

Zach Lowry

After months of delay, the Coffee County Commission voted Tuesday to appoint Zach Lowry to the Public Building Authority (PBA).

The seven-member PBA owns and operates the Manchester-Coffee County Conference Center.

Lowry works for QuantiTech at Arnold Engineering Development Complex.

 “Overall, I want to help the center succeed and continue to serve as an asset to the community,” Lowry said. “As a board member for Coffee County, I want to ensure that communication between the commission and the PBA is open and transparent and that the commission is able to have an accurate expectation of the expenses that the MCCCC will incur for a given fiscal year.”

He said he plans to ensure the board is taking “every step possible to reduce expenses at the MCCCC to further reduce the burden the center has become on the taxpayers of our county.”

“Finally, I want to pay close attention to the management and operation of the center and make sure that we aren’t violating any local, state or federal statutes that could expose the county to another costly lawsuit,” Lowry said.

Born and raised in Coffee County, Lowry graduated from MTSU with a master’s degree in computer science and mathematics.

On Tuesday, the full commission voted 17-1 to support Lowry.

Commissioner Joey Hobbs voted against Lowry’s appointment. Commissioners Helen Debellis, Tildon Stubblefield and Barbara Buckner were absent.

PBA appointments were delayed as county officials awaited the opinion of the County Technical Assistance Service (CTAS), advising them as to which governing body can legally select PBA members.

CTAS issued an opinion in November, stating the county commission is the only governing body authorized to appoint members to the PBA.

Manchester City then asked Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS), which provides assistance related to legal, financial and human resources issues to municipal governments, for advice. MTAS’ ruling, which echoed the CTAS opinion, was issued in February.

 

Replacing unlawful appointments

Since Manchester City had appointed Jewell Noblitt and Richard Dix to the PBA without the approval of the county commission, they were sitting on the board unlawfully, according to CTAS.

According to CTAS, the Manchester, Tullahoma and Rural caucuses discuss the candidates, the county mayor makes nominations, and the county commission has the final vote on board members.

The City of Manchester, the City of Tullahoma and rural Coffee County are each represented by two board members on PBA and the seventh member is designated at-large.

Noblitt was supposed to represent rural Coffee County and Dix was on the board to represent Manchester.

On Tuesday, Lowry was selected to fill the rural seat.

Selecting a new member for the Manchester’s seat was on the agenda, as well; however, Coffee County Gary Cordell tabled that discussion.

Elena Cawley may be reached via email at ecawley@tullahomanews.com.