Thursday, February 9, 2017

Are some members of IDB Board serving illegally?

A close reading of state law and and Germantown Code has revealed that at least two members of the Industrial Development Board may not be serving legally, according to Alderman Dean Massey. 
His concerns are covered in this Commercial Appeal article: 

Germantown Alderman Questions Industrial Development Board Makeup   


Alderman Dean Massey raised the point during an appearance before the board at its meeting Tuesday evening. He asked the board to postpone the meeting until the city's administration and aldermen have time to discuss the issue at a retreat Friday, but the board declined the request and proceeded with the items on its published agenda..............(snip)

Massey then outlined language in state statute that, according to his interpretation, prohibits city employees and "officers" of the city from serving on an industrial development panel. Massey also cited city code that he believes defines "officers" as not only the mayor and aldermen, but also appointed members of boards, commissions and committees established by ordinance, charter or state law.........  

Two IDB members, Mike Harless and Keigh Saunders, also serve on the Planning Commission. 

Although Patrick Lawton had no real comment, I found it interesting that the Collierville Administrator was quoted saying that Collierville has a policy that a person may not sit on more than one city commission. 

Although the Commercial Appeal article did not specify the laws/ordinances involved, Mr. Massey later clarified that in this post to the Facebook group Germantown Bulletin Board

I asked the Industrial Development Board to postpone their last meeting to give their own directors, city and BMA time to determine if TCA 7-53-301 precludes the members of the IDB from serving on other commissions, such as the planning commission and financial advisory commission. TCA 7-53-301 states, "No director [of the IDB] shall be an officer or employee of the municipality." Germantown Code states, "Officer shall mean the mayor and any member of the board of aldermen and any appointive member of a board, commission or committee established by ordinance, charter or state law." I believe our state legislators intended to create separation between the city managers and the industrial development board, and I maintain that the members of our quasi-judicial commissions should not serve as members of the Industrial Development Board. I felt like it was in the best interests of our citizens to meet with the Industrial Development Board, and Chairman Evans was gracious to give me a few minutes to speak. The men and women serving on the IDB have made invaluable contributions to our city, so I did not enjoy bringing this issue before them. For the record, I am grateful for their service to our city.  

And, he noted later: 

To be fair, the members of the IDB and city administrator think I am wrong, so I have asked for a legal opinion. It is possible that I am wrong, but if you read my previous post, I think you will understand why I raised the issue. 

This issue will likely be discussed at the retreat tomorrow. 

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