Rainsville weighs shifting oversight of departments

Rainsville weighs shifting oversight of departments

May 30th, 2013 by Ben Benton in Local Regional News

Illustration by Laura McNutt /Times Free Press.

Rainsville, Ala., Mayor Nick Jones and town council members are discussing changing the way the city oversees its departments.

Jones said the town is growing along with its departments, so now could be the best time to make changes.

He said he talked with mayors and elected officials in other towns to see what they were doing.

Councilman David Holt said nothing has been changed in Rainsville so far, but there are some ideas.

"Now, each council person is over a particular department," Holt said. Discussions in a recent work session concerned splitting responsibility for overseeing each department between two council members, he said.

Holt said he wasn't sure council responsibilities could be changed.

"It's just in the 'talking' phase," Holt said.

There are "mixed feelings" among council members, Jones said.

"Traditionally in Rainsville, the mayor runs the day-to-day operations of the city, and in the past the mayor has always appointed council members as liaisons to the various city departments," he said.

One idea is "forming committees to serve in an advisory role with those departments and the department heads that are running them," he said. The committees could be handy with some departments needing policy updates and new ordinances pertaining to operations, he said.

Jones said officials hadn't discussed adding a member of the public to the committees but he liked the notion. He said he wanted to avoid having too many committees, maybe limiting them to five.

"We don't really know how it's going to play out," Jones said. "I want it to be a unanimous thing, and I don't want it to be something the majority is going to impose on the minority."

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at 423-757-6569 or bbenton@timesfreepress.com. Find him on Facebook at facebook.com/ben.benton1 and on Twitter at twitter.com/BenBenton.