Ordinance Would Extend Lawmakers' Terms 3-06-2011 - WSMV Channel 4

Ordinance Would Extend Lawmakers' Terms 3-06-2011

Reported by Carley Gordon
WHITE BLUFF, Tenn.Elected officials are pushing for a law change that would extend their term by 16 months.
Some said the change will save taxpayers money. Others said it will violate their constitutional right to vote.
There's a petition circulating around White Bluff that reads, "The people decide how long our leaders are to stay in office, not the leaders themselves."
Right now, that's subject to change.
A proposed ordinance would postpone the city's election next month until next November, giving the mayor and city council an extra 16 months in office.
"Who's to say our president couldn't sit up there next year and say, 'You know what? I'm not ready to leave office. I think I'm going to hang out a little bit longer.' That's not his decision to make," said concerned citizen Amy Gass.
Among the signatures on the petition was Councilwoman Lillian Cauthern. She was the only council member to vote against the change so far.
"If it had been six months ago or a year ago, then that would have been fine, but you've already got people running and people qualified," said Cauthern.
"We have to do it eventually, and doing it now is just as appropriate as at any time," said Councilman Allen Johnson.
Johnson voted for the change. He said it has nothing to do with keeping his seat and everything to do with saving money.
"Look at the cost," said Johnson.
Cities across Dickson County are having to tackle the same issue.
The previous election commission hasn't been charging each city accurately for the past several years. Now, holding elections in Dickson County will cost cities thousands more than they're used to paying.
In White Bluff, an election next month would cost more than $5,000 when it only budgeted for $1,500. Holding them during the general election would cost mere hundreds.
"It's the money that belongs to the taxpayers that we are trying to protect, and it saves the taxpayers the $4,000 to postpone, not cancel, to postpone the election," said Johnson.
Last year, the state passed a law which allows city governments to change their election date once.
Still, White Bluff's city attorney is asking the attorney general to opine on the matter and to ensure changing the date is legal.
White Bluff's council will make its final decision at a special meeting Tuesday night.
Several other Dickson County towns are having to make the same decision. Vanleer's council recently voted to keep its election date and pay the extra cost.

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