State legislators passed a bill last week aimed at creating uniformity among Road Board and School Board zones in Rutherford County as set by recent redistricting.
Legislation was introduced in the state House in January after state Rep. Mike Sparks (R-Smyrna) sponsored a bill initiated by Rutherford County in an effort to amend part of the Private Act, which gives guidelines to which Rutherford County government operates.
“They did a little clean-up work because we weren’t operating according to the Private Act, we were operating according to a resolution that was passed right after the Private Act,” said Nicole Lester, administrator of elections.
The bill sets the Road Board zones as they were created by the Redistricting Committee and renames two of the zones so that each Highway Commission district matches its corresponding School Board district.
The bill also amends Chapter 55 of the Private Act of 1951 to create four-year term limits for the Road Board. Amending the Private Act was necessary as Tennessee Code Annotated 49-2-201 requires School Board members be elected to four-year terms, however, the County Commission can adjust Road Board term limits.
Lester explained it is much more organized to have Road Board and School Board members under the same zone with the same term limits.
In order to create four-year terms for Road Board members consistent with the School Board, two members will be elected to a six-year term.
Road Board Zone 2 will be elected to a six-year term in 2014 and Zone 7 will be elected this year. All subsequent terms will be four years.
Lester pushed to amend the Private Act in December 2011 explaining she could not petition for elections until the state approved the redistricting proposal and it could affect this year’s elections.
Some commissioners were weary of making such an amendment to the Private Act at the time, as there was much debate surrounding Road Board and School Board zones.
Lester argued for getting the process started and if the Rutherford County Commission made changes to zones, they would not have to ratify what came back from the state.
“Legislation can be changed,” she said.
As a result of the changes, the County Commission may also have to decide whether to make the state approved changes to the Private Act.