|Commission approves new law on county attorney
|Posted: Friday, December 18, 2009 10:16 am
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|A restructuring of Rutherford County’s legal department is one step closer to fruition after a key vote in the county commission Thursday night.
With little discussion, the commission unanimously approved a proposed law governing the Rutherford County Attorney’s office at its regular monthly meeting.
The new law will repeal Chapter 67 of the Private Acts of Rutherford County and replace it with legislation that will allow for a new legal services agreement with county attorney Jim Cope’s law firm, Cope, Hudson & Reed to provide legal advice and support to the county for the next two years. After which, the county will transition to an in-house legal department.
“I think the new private act … represents a good compromise and good joint effort between the commission and private citizens,” County Commissioner John Rodgers said, adding the steering committee made changes to the proposed law after a local citizens group raised concerns.
In order for the legal services contract with Cope to be legal, the county’s laws defining the office of county attorney must be rewritten, which takes the approval of the Tennessee Legislature in Nashville.
Since the change is permanent, the a local citizens group, Rutherford Neighborhood Alliance, wanted it done correctly and the county commission sent the resolution back through the committee process to make sure all wrinkles are ironed out and questions answered.
The Steering Committee strengthened a provision in the proposed law making it clear that county commission has the authority to hire the county attorney and any other outside legal council, Rodgers said.
But the committee stopped short at requiring a 2/3 (supermajority) vote to confirm the county attorney and appoint outside council.
Next the Steering Committee will begin reworking a legal services agreement with Cope, Hudson & Reed that Rodgers hopes to have ready by February or March.
The county unanimously approved accepting money from the federal stimulus program.
The Rutherford County Administrative Office of the Courts received a ARRA Byrne Program grant for $4,935 for enhancing security and technology by installing high resolution cameras in county courtrooms.
The commission unanimously approved a change to the county’s zoning resolution regarding signs.
Assistant Planning Director Elizabeth Emslie said the article governing signs does not address new technological developments in signage. Rutherford County Regional Planning Commission recommended adding language prohibiting new signs should be added until a new article for signs is completed.
The city of Murfreesboro has also ran afoul of some businesses with its strict rules governing business signs. The county planning commission wished to avoid problems by banning all signs that are not “expressly mentioned” in the sign ordinance.
New regulations regarding signs should be introduced by spring 2010, Emslie said.
Michelle Willard can be contacted at 615-869-0816 or email@example.com.