Commission approves study in rare December meeting

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The Marshall County Commission met last Thursday in a rare December meeting.

The commission generally closes their year in November, as the 4th Monday of December generally conflicts with the date of Christmas.

This year the commission had too many items that could not wait until the end of January for consideration, necessitating a special called meeting.

A proposal to conduct a county employee salary study was the only item to generate discussion and disagreement among commissioners.

Several commissioners spoke in favor of the study, while others wondered if county department heads or human resources could not do the same work in house.

Several of the same arguments were made at the November meeting, while the county’s budget committee was working out details of the proposal.

The belief that a qualified third-party study would return more benefit to the county while also avoiding the possibility of friction or bias between departments ultimately won out.

The resolution moving forward with the study passed on a 12 to 4 vote.

Commissioners Blackwell, Cuevas, Nichols, and Poarch voting against.

Over the last few years the county has seen increased pressure on hiring and retaining employees as middle Tennessee booms and as fewer candidates enter public service, especially in law enforcement and emergency medical careers.

The comprehensive review is designed to make the county more competitive and attractive with other counties hiring from the same pool of candidates.

The county had a consultant conduct a similar study two years ago, with particular emphasis on jail and EMS employees.

Commissioner Debbie Hill added that the county should “delve deeper” into the issue and determine additional factors in employee retention.

In other agenda items, commissioners renewed the mutual aid agreement between the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office and the rangers at Henry Horton State Park and agreed to participate in the settlement of opioid lawsuits in which the county is a part.

Commissioners also reappointed Jessica Moore to the county’s Zoning Appeals Board and appointed May Bennett to the same body to fill the unexpired term of Clinton Edmonson.