published Sunday, November 25th, 2012

South Pittsburg commission in limbo over part-time hire

SOUTH PITTSBURG, Tenn. — The effort to hire a part-time employee for South Pittsburg's Princess Theatre twice has ended in a tie vote by city commissioners.

In September, City Administrator Bently Thomas and Parks and Recreation Director Lisa Bradford recommended hiring the worker, which requires the commission's approval.

Mayor Mike Killian was not present at that meeting, and the vote ended in a 2-2 deadlock.

After some research, Thomas said the City Charter mandates that a vote ending in a tie forces the issue onto the next board meeting's agenda.

At last week's meeting, Killian was present and moved to approve the hire.

"I think we need somebody down there because of the many events that are being held there," he said. "I feel like we need to make a move now because of some of the events that are coming up soon."

But outgoing Commissioner Gene King was out sick, and the vote again ended 2-2.

Bradford said interest in the facility is growning to more than one or two regular city employees can handle.

"We're trying to make it a better thing, but it's hard when we don't have help to do it," she said.

The Parks and Recreation budget includes a line item for part-time and seasonal employees, Bradford said, so the money is approved and available for the hire.

"Any of the commissioners are welcome to help work [at the theater], as well," she said. "We always need volunteers, and volunteers don't always have to come from just random citizens."

The stalemate came after the board unanimously approved two part-time workers for the Public Works Department, which required a budget amendment.

Those employees will work 20 hours a week for 12 weeks a year, and Killian estimates they will cost the city about $4,000 annually.

A part-time employee at the Princess Theatre would work about four hours a week for minimum wage, officials said.

The vote will be moved to the agenda for the Dec. 11 commission meeting.

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