County Clerk’s Job Duties Discussed
How did they get around the law?
By: Pat Hunter
October 26, 2008
Video Clip Commissioners puzzled
Commissioners seemed very puzzled that out of the blue, Mayor Doyle Arp and County Clerk Riley Wampler were both singing from the same tune. The Court Clerk not the Mayor would handle the duties of Minutes of Commission. Mayor Arp explained it, as a separation of duties.
Video Clip - This issue was previously discussed at the Aug. 18, 2008 Budget committee meeting. Mayor Doyle Arp spoke on behalf of County Clerk Riley Wampler and requested a full-time employee to do the minutes for Wampler’s office. Budget Committee members Nancy Marcus and Bob Franke spoke about the county clerk’s request. Franke asked why Wampler didn’t make his request during the budget process. Marcus and Franke spoke about how previous Mayor George Miller told them that County Clerk Wampler refused to do the Minutes. Coincidently, after this meeting, Arp replaced Marcus and Franke with Commissioners Harold Duff and David Meers in September.
At the Oct. 20th Budget Committee meeting, Budget Chairman Mayor Doyle Arp opened the meeting with his comments. “We’ve been doing the Minutes (Commission) through my office” and all the turmoil that it causes. We’re the only county office in the state of Tennessee that does it, said Arp. It’s a commission meeting not a mayor’s meeting.
Loudon County has the dubious distinction of being the only county in the entire state that circumvents state law when it comes to who performs the County Clerk's job of taking Commission Minutes! The County Clerk is a constitutional officer elected to a four-year term with specific duties and responsibilities as mandated by state statute. One of the primary functions of the County Clerk is to keep the official minutes and records of the legislative body and its Standing Committees. But instead, Commission Minutes were written by the Mayor’s office and then sent to the County Clerk’s office at the Annex, where the records are maintained.
Court Clerk Riley Wampler attended the Oct. 20th meeting and he requested funding for a part-time employee to take Commission meeting Minutes. This time his funding request sailed through with the new Budget Committee. They voted to allocate $10 per hour, 30 hours for a part-time employee. This recommendation will now go to the full commission for a vote on Nov. 3, 2008.
New Budget Committee member Commissioner Meer’s, mumbled in a bare whisper, something about giving a 60-day trial basis. It seems like Commissioner Meer’s isn’t familiar with state law, “The county clerk is the clerk of the county legislative body (18-6-101; 18-6-104). The clerk keeps the official records of the body, sends required notices, and keeps a record of all appropriations and allowances made and all claims chargeable against the county. In addition to keeping the minutes, the county clerk is required to 1. Notify each member of a special or called session not less than five days in advance of the meeting (5-5-106); 2. Present each resolution approved by the county legislative body to the county executive for signature promptly after the meeting of the county legislative body and report the approval or nonapproval at the next meeting in the reading of the minutes…”
Wampler said that he couldn’t prepare Resolutions. Mayor Arp mentioned that his assistant was spending 60 to 70 hours preparing Minutes and Resolutions for Commission.
Sample Resolutions are readily available on the CTAS website and CTAS attorneys are available for free consultation so this shouldn’t be a problem for the Court Clerk’s office.
Budget Committee member Don Miller asked Mayor Arp, who will do workshop agendas? She can do the workshop agendas, referring to Wampler’s office. Wampler said that he could use a full-time person but Miller said that he hated to hire a full-time person.
The Mayor’s office will work with Wampler’s office during the transition period and help with training.
It’s nice to know that after all this time Court Clerk Wampler will join the other 94 counties and comply with state law.
Mayor's Administrative Assistant Brenda Bright & former Administrative Assistant Angie Chambers, both handled Minutes and were mentioned during these discussions.
(NOTE: Mayor Arp had his assistant deputized to take Commission’s Minutes shortly after taking office, when in fact, it was the court clerk’s duties and responsibilities. According to Riley Wampler, he has not done the Commission Minutes and other related duties for 10 years or more. Former County Executive-County Mayor George Miller’s administrative assistant took county commission minutes. County Commission formalized this sweetheart deal on January 3, 2003, when Commissioner Bob Franke managed to spearhead adopting a Letter of Agreement between the County Clerk, County Executive and County Commission regarding County Executive's Assistant to act as Clerk for County Commission meetings. There was also a time when George Miller’s assistant was also in charge of the elections of bonds and notaries. According to the CTAS Manual and state law that’s another NO-NO, “… A notary public is elected by the members of the county legislative body in the county where the notary then resides or maintains a principal place of business. T.C.A. § 8-16-101…”)