JASPER, Tenn. - When Alderman Steve Looney discovered there was a new part-time summer worker with the city's parks and recreation department, he couldn't remember when the Jasper Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved that.
That's because the board never did.
"We didn't vote on it," Looney said. "We have to vote to approve volunteer firemen. They don't get paid a nickel, and we have to approve them."
Mayor Paul Evans said he hired the part-time employee as summer help for the parks department.
"I was trying to get some things done," he said. "They've done a lot this summer."
The work included "sprucing up the park" and painting a nearby annex building, Evans said.
"I'm not complaining about what's been done," Looney said. "I'm wondering why the board didn't vote on it."
City Attorney Mark Raines said Evans called him before hiring the worker and asked if it required board approval.
"When I discussed this with the mayor, it was my understanding or impression that the money had already been allocated in the budget," Raines said. "He's not any kind of permanent employee."
Since the money was in the budget, he advised Evans that the board didn't need to vote on it.
"This young man is basically home from [college]," Raines said. "He didn't have the traditional benefits of a regular employee. He was just there to earn a little cash. If I gave [Evans] bad advice, then I gave him bad advice."
Evans apologized to the board for the mistake.
"I thought I was doing a good thing by helping this young man to earn a little extra money, and I take full responsibility for it," Evans said. "Don't hold anything against anybody but me. It won't happen again."
Raines said since he's been Jasper's attorney, this is the first time he can remember the town hiring summer help.
"But in prior years, I don't think it was ever in the budget or the money was appropriated," he said. "So, in that situation, it definitely would've required board action because you're going to have to allocate money."
In this case, he said the only thing the board didn't vote on was the person hired to do the work.
Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.