published Thursday, September 5th, 2013

Hamilton County Commissioner Fred Skillern to change pace of commission business

Commissioner Fred Skillern talks during a Hamilton County Commission meeting.
Commissioner Fred Skillern talks during a Hamilton County Commission meeting.
Photo by Angela Lewis.

In other business

On Wednesday, commissioners voted to:

• Approve the rezoning of property at 8600 N. Hickory Valley Road from rural residential to apartment zoning.

• Accept a $90 million credit agreement with U.S. Bank National Association for various public works projects.

• Donate nearly 14 acres of jointly owned land on Moccasin Bend to the National Park Service to be included in the Moccasin Bend Archaeological District.

• Approve a $218,000 contract for repairs at the Middle Valley Recreation Facility.

• Approve a contract with Chattanooga Funeral Home, Crematory & Florist for cremation services for indigent burials. The contract is for $275 per cremation.

Hamilton County Commissioner Fred Skillern says the commission is going to get leaner and meaner under his leadership.

Skillern was sworn in Wednesday as chairman of the commission, after an unanimous vote. This will be the fourth time the local political veteran has occupied the center chair.

"I don't count that stuff, but I'm humbled my fellow commissioners gave me that support," Skillern said after the meeting.

Skillern said he plans on making a few changes to the way the commission does business, the first being the pace of meetings.

He told commissioners he would make sure all would have the opportunity to speak about issues that come up -- but he asked that they keep comments brief.

"Always remember that this staff costs us $2 a second to sit here, when they can be doing other things," Skillern said.

He also plans to cut the size of committees to four or fewer members.

"I just don't think it's fair to the remainder of the commission to already have five votes when you come to present an issue to them. If it's five to nothing, the other four have really no input," Skillern said. "I'd like to have all the committees the size so they won't have a majority of the commission."

New committees will be set once Skillern has a chance to talk with commissioners about where they would like to serve.

Skillern was made chairman after one nomination and one 9-0 vote, but the pro tempore seat is still up for grabs.

After three votes and a brief recess, commissioners were deadlocked in a 3-3-3 vote among Commissioners Chester Bankston, Tim Boyd and Jim Fields.

Commissioners Bankston, Marty Haynes and Larry Henry were in Bankston's corner, while Greg Beck, Boyd and Warren Mackey voted for Boyd. Fields, Joe Graham and Skillern voted for Fields.

The vote for chairman pro tempore was tabled until the next meeting.

County Attorney Rheubin Taylor told commissioners there is no legal reason why the commission had to vote on a permanent pro tem, and commissioners could select one on an as-needed basis if Skillern was unable to attend a meeting.

Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at 423-757-6481 or at lbrogdon@timesfreepress.com.

about Louie Brogdon...

Louie Brogdon began reporting with the Chattanooga Times Free Press in February 2013. Before he came to the Scenic City, Louie lived on St. Simons Island, Ga. and covered crime, courts, environment and government at the Brunswick News, a 17,000-circulation daily on the Georgia coast. While there, he was awarded for investigative reporting on police discipline and other law enforcement issues by the Georgia Press Association. For the Times Free Press, Louie covers Hamilton County ...

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