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Legislative Committee Meeting Minutes – November 13, 2023 (Approved)

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13 NOVEMBER 2023


The Chair Commissioner Matt Rubelsky opened the meeting asking Commissioner Roger Reedy to offer a prayer and lead the pledge. The Minutes of 12 September 2023 were moved for approval by Commissioner Joyce Woodard, seconded by Commissioner Terry Jones, and were approved unanimously.  The Chair asked if there were any public comments and there being none, he asked if the County Executive (CE) Graham Stowe had any announcements.  There were none.


A handout of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) & Agri-Park Use agreement; Giles County Commission & Lions Club, Rotary Club, Cattleman’s Association, Civitan Club was provided.  A motion by Commissioner Caleb Savage to approve the MoU was made and Commissioner Terry Jones provided a second.  Prior to voting the following discussion took place:  The CE noted that there was currently nothing in place that codified longstanding, status quo arrangements and the MoU was necessary to document existing responsibilities and relationships.  Lines 1 – 9 were briefly explained, e.g., Line 1 included a property custodian, Line 2 defined the joint mission of the Agri-Park, and so on with Line 6 stating the County Commission further agrees to annually fund the Agri-Park to ensure appropriate resources for park maintenance.  Commissioner Evan Baddour asked if the Commission concurrence was required for the Agri-Park to put into place.  The CE responded that the MoU formally recognizes the responsibilities of both the commission and the civic clubs; and the Chair noted that with election changes, the MoU would provide helpful documentation and direction for the next elected commission.   Re Line 6, Commissioner David Adams expressed concerns stating it is not the commission’s responsibility to make sure the Agri-Park stays open, and while the cost is currently known for operation, Line 6 doesn’t limit the commission’s fiscal responsibility.  Commissioner Evan Baddour agreed with Commissioner Adams stating the Agri-Park has potential for other uses, e.g., location of a new school.  Commissioner Shelly Goolsby suggested placing a cap on the Commission’s fiscal responsibility.  The CE noted that the Commission already has the power to limit fiscal responsibilities, which is elemental to the Commission’s annual budget process. A note of concern that all districts aren’t represented on the Agri-BoD was discussed as well.  The Chair noted that the Agri-Park is seeking direction from the Commission on previously discussed options, i.e., remain a non-profit; stay same, be part of the county for example.  Commissioner Baddour commented that he was hoping the Agri-Park would make a decision and recommend to the commission.  The Chair noted that a previous committee had decided that the Commission owned this decision, and the meeting today was to follow through with providing that direction.  Commissioner Annelle Guthrie expressed concern that the MoU would take away some of the Commission’s power.  She noted rumors that clubs could get out at any time and then come back.  The CE said under current By-laws that is not the case, and the MOU merely documents status quo, decades-long responsibilities.  Commissioner Baddour noted that if codified he would be more comfortable with wording being expressed as “has been”.  He further noted that he would be bringing up as new business some new language for the MoU, in particular since the commission is on the “hook” for liability.  Funding of the operation of the Agri-Park was discussed, in particular how much funding is put in by the clubs, with several saying their “sweat equity” is considerable.  Commissioner Baddour discussed some of the language in the MoU, stating a more defined “appropriate resources” would be more useful, e.g. a list.  CE reiterated that the Commission already determines “appropriate resources” as part of their annual budget cycle. Commissioner Brad Butler commented that a lease agreement with the clubs might mitigate some of the liability.  Commissioner Rose Brown asked if the commission could lease county property to others; the CE noted that’s a similar arrangement that Lawrenceburg has with their Rotary Park. Commissioner Terry Jones asked that the idea be taken to the County Attorney and get a reading.  An amended motion by Commissioner Caleb Savage and seconded by Commissioner Terry Jones to include Line 9 reflecting that previous administrative and fiscal practices would remain in place was made.   A role call vote was then taken on the MoU.  The motion approving the handout as amended to include Line 9 passed 4 – 3 with Commissioners Evan Baddour, Joyce Woodard, and Shelly Goolsby voting no.


New Business – Commissioner Evan Baddour noted the full commission had sent back to the Legislative Committee a proposed Resolution of the Giles County Commission Declaring Support for the First Amendment for further discussion.  Commissioner Baddour also noted that 1st Amendment cases are invoked more than 2nd Amendment cases.  He also said that the language used from both a previous commission and a recently approved resolution by the current commission were used in developing this resolution.  When asked about protection from a lawsuit, Commissioner Baddour said it reaffirms our oath we took at the beginning of our term.  Freedom of speech was discussed by Commissioner Shelly Goolsby as experienced in her previous occupation as a teacher.  Commissioner Caleb Savage said he preferred specifics since the 1st Amendment is broad.   Commissioner Gayle Jones referenced the Agri Park rules and is worried that makes all commissioners vulnerable to being personally sued.  She suggested rather than the county be a test option that should be the state’s role.  A question from Commissioner Roger Reedy on why the commissioners are not bonded was raised.  The Chair noted his concern that he wanted local people to still have a say and he felt this resolution was redundant.  A vote was taken to send to the full commission, with a 4-3 vote showing Commissioners Terry Jones, Annelle McPeters, Caleb Savage, and Matt Rubelsky voting to send to the full commission with a no vote.  The Chair noted this could be brought up as new business in the full commission, and asked that the County Attorney be briefed.


Old Business – the use of the Richland School being used by a church, whose building had burned, was discussed with several Commissioners noting they had received calls about that use.  The Chair noted he would reach out to Dr. Beard, School Superintendent.


Motion to adjourn was made by Commissioner Joyce Woodard, seconded by Commissioner Terry Jones and was approved.


The CE commented on the Courthouse grounds policy which had already been approved and that now included a rewording for clarification, and that Rule XV revisions still required Commission approval.


ATTENDEES:    Members of the Committee:  Chair Commissioner Matt Rubelsky, Commissioners:  Joyce Woodard, Terry Jones, Annelle Guthrie, Caleb Savage, Shelly Goolsby for Judy Pruett (absent) and Evan Baddour   Other Commissioners in attendance:  Rose Brown, David Adams, Gayle Jones, Roger Reedy, Brad Butler, Other Attendees: County Executive Graham Stowe, Director EMS Bill Myers and members of the public