published Saturday, May 17th, 2014

Change to South Pittsburg’s charter awaits Haslam signature

SOUTH PITTSBURG, Tenn. — City leaders are waiting on final state approval for a change to South Pittsburg’s charter, which would speed up the process of passing new ordinances.

Now, the South Pittsburg City Commission is required to have three readings to pass a new statute, but City Administrator Sammy Burrows said state law requires only two readings.

Burrows said in January that the number of required readings needed to be shortened because there had been concerns among city officials about “delays in getting things done.”

Mayor Jane Dawkins said South Pittsburg’s current system is “a little antiquated.”

The board voted unanimously in January to change the charter, but that takes state authorization.

Dawkins said the measure has been approved by the Tennessee Legislature.

“It did pass for us to actually go to two readings instead of three readings, but [Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam] has not signed it,” she said.

Since the change hasn’t gotten final approval, city leaders are preparing to pass next year’s budget with three readings. The board voted 4-1 earlier this week to approve a “skeleton” budget on first reading.

Dawkins said city leaders were “just getting the process started” in case three readings are required for the budget’s approval.

“By no means are we ready to pass a budget, but we’re going to go ahead and do the first reading of our budget ordinance,” she said.

Many towns across the state don’t have new budgets approved by early July, but Dawkins said city leaders have set that as a goal.

“We may be one of the only municipalities to have [a budget] ready by July 1,” she said. “We’re certainly going to give it a good shot.”

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.

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