BLOUNTVILLE — A proposal to create the dual positions of Sullivan County Commission Assistant and County Public Affairs Director has become a commission resolution.
The expected start-up and operating price is $150,000.
The money would be taken in the first year from the fund balance of the county’s general fund and would then come from the commission’s budget. It would begin in August 2022, and the money would be used to pay for the position “and purchase office equipment and supplies to establish the office,” the resolution says.
“At this time it will just be first reading,” Kingsport’s sponsoring commissioner Gary Stidham said of item 5 of the June 16 commission meeting, resolution No. 2022-06-47. “We have a lot of questions that have been asked that need to be answered.” The detail of the expenses is the subject of a few questions.
“There’s a lot of printing that’s involved,” Stidham said of printing the committee’s agenda packets each month. “This (funding amount) can be adjusted.”
He said another question is whether the position is really needed, but he said that with the departure of longtime administrative assistant Angela Taylor to become county administrator around September 1, the tasks described require the attention of a second employee.
First, Stidham said the post would primarily be an assistant to the 24 commissioners in drafting resolutions, including researching past resolutions on the same subject. He said it can involve a fair amount of research, depending on the topic.
He said another question concerned the duties of the position and a job description beyond what is in the resolution for a position “independent of the administrative assistant to the county mayor.”
The resolution states that the assistant’s duties “will include, but are not limited to, preparation, publication and tabling of resolutions for the committee; preparation of resolution summaries identifying the final action/outcome of the passing said resolution; rescinding previous resolutions on the subject; preparing tax memos; assisting in the preparation of presentations by the commissioner; (and) archiving and indexing the resolutions.”
Regarding the secondary role of public affairs, the resolution stated that “typical duties will include, but are not limited to, preparing and distributing authorized press releases about the activities of the commission; conducting the class West Ridge (Hugh School) audio-visual broadcast of the committee meeting, as approved by Resolution No. 2022-05-44; directing the obtaining of live or delayed broadcast of the meetings of the commission via public-access cable channels; organizing and preparing press conferences with electronic and print media; preparing audio-visual presentations on items of interest to the public as well as civic organizations; and assisting the office of the Sullivan County tourism in community event related activities.”
Mayor Richard Venable, at a finance committee meeting on June 1, raised the idea of the new position. The Stidham resolution was presented at the committee’s business session on Thursday, June 9 and is co-sponsored by commissioners John Gardner, Andrew Cross and Darlene Calton. Stidham was unable to attend.
“The mayor doesn’t come up with resolutions,” Venable said Friday. The Finance Committee took no action on the idea, which at the time was not a formal proposal and had no proposed budget.