“County Powers Act”
Welcome to the Commissioners’ Corner! This will be a monthly column prepared by your County Commission and published, at no cost, by the local newspapers in the last edition of each month. This column will be used for informative purposes only and does not intend to stress any point of view. If you have a particular item you would like to discuss, please contact Peggy at the commission office at 562-9961.
This month we will try to offer an understanding of the adoption of the “County Powers Act.” It has been mentioned in various news media, but hopefully this article will explain the facts. As with any government action there may be pros and cons. This article is only to discuss some of the mechanics of the act. The general assembly granted Tennessee Counties the right to adopt a local act called the “County Powers Act.” This act grants the County Commission the right by a 2/3 vote (10 of 15 votes) to act on certain items that other municipalities already have the right to do. The state however, limited the powers that were given to the county commission. If you review the “County Powers Act”, you will see that the general powers granted to the county begins at paragraph three and exempts paragraphs one- two, nine, 14-17, 20-21, 24-25, 27. The state does not grant the right for the commission to act within the exempted paragraphs. We are only authorized to act within the paragraphs stated. As with most documents, much of the language can be confusing, so hopefully we can help translate the true meanings. One common misconception is that the act gives the commission the power to enact zoning. Zoning could be done without this act. According to the information at hand, to enact zoning would take a much more in depth action, posting the intentions in the local paper and approval by the commission. This act allows the commission to only take certain actions. One example of how and when the “County Powers Act” would be utilized is in regards to the “Campbell County/Lonas Young Memorial Park.” This act provides the mechanism necessary to protect our investment in this and other projects. This act will allow the current commission to establish a set of rules and guidelines for the park usage. If these guidelines are not followed, this act provides the right for the county to enforce certain fines and penalties upon those who disregard the rules. In this case, this act would serve to protect your investment in this project and others that may develop. In addition, there is a grandfather clause for anything that is currently in existence. Most of the discussion has been around paragraph 22 of the act. Following is that paragraph in whole:
(22) Define, prohibit, abate, suppress, prevent and regulate all acts, practices, conduct, businesses, occupations, callings, trades, uses of property and all other things whatsoever detrimental, or liable to be detrimental, to the health, morals, comfort, safety, convenience or welfare of the inhabitants of the municipality, and exercise general police powers;
Within this paragraph there are key words. All the words before the “and” are tied together in that they must be detrimental or are liable to be detrimental before any action could be taken by the commission. Although there are some judgment decisions involved any action taken must be approved by a 2/3 vote. The act itself does nothing. The items above are not intended to persuade your decision to be for or against the act. Neither does it intend to state how the commission as a whole views the act. It is simply an attempt to provide a better understanding of what the act addresses.
If you would like a copy of the “County Powers Act” please call Peggy at 423-562-9961.
We hope you find this column to be informative. We are asking each of you that voted us in to please come and join us. We need your help. If you have a concern, bring it, along with a couple of possible solutions. We are eager to help but cannot do it alone.
The workshops are the second Monday of the month and the meetings are the third Monday in the courtroom on the main level of the Jacksboro courthouse at 6 p.m. Please come!