The Hawkins County Commission's Budget Committee voted 5-2 Monday in favor of drafting a resolution that would call for commissioners to be paid for two or more committee meetings if they are held in the same day.
Other than that, the pay for commissioners wouldn't change under the latest proposal.
Based on a 1978 Tennessee attorney general's opinion, commissioners are currently only paid for one committee meeting per day, regardless of how many committee meetings they attend.
Last month, the Budget Committee discussed the possibility of changing the way commissioners are paid.
Currently commissioners receive $100 for attending the regular monthly meeting, $50 for each committee meeting, and are reimbursed for travel expenses involving county business.
Under those guidelines, the county spent $53,339 on the County Commission during the 2005-06 fiscal year, including travel costs.
The idea discussed last month was to pay commissioners $300 per month, eliminate committee meeting pay, and require commissioners to pay their own expenses when they travel. The estimated annual cost under that policy is $75,600.
Following about 40 minutes of discussion during Monday's Budget Committee meeting, the members decided to propose sticking with the original policy for commissioner pay with two exceptions.
Despite being contradictory to the 29-year-old attorney general's opinion, the Budget Committee will propose pay for each committee meeting held in the same day.
An example of someone that change would affect is Commissioner Charlie Thacker, who is on the Budget Committee and the Highway Committee. Both committees met Monday, but under the current rules Thacker will be paid for only one meeting.
The other change is for the
county mayor's office to take the responsibility of arranging all travel plans for commissioners, as opposed to the current policy which has commissioners making their own travel arrangements and then being reimbursed later.
Commissioners would be expected to pay the hotel reservation costs if they canceled at the last minute, however.
Committee member Robert Palmer suggested that a provision be placed in the policy forgiving commissioners of the last-minute cancellation expense if there is a sudden death or illness in a commissioner's family. Palmer's suggestion was not made part of the proposal, however.
Palmer and Commissioner Claude Parrott voted against the proposal.
With approval of the proposal Monday, a resolution will be drafted and presented to the Budget Committee to vote on again in May. If it is approved again, it will be on the agenda for full commission consideration when it meets May 24.
In other business Monday the Budget Committee welcomed back longtime Chairman Parrott, who has been recovering from a serious illness for the past several months. At Parrott's request, Vice Chairman Virgil Mallett will take over as chairman permanently.