Local News

Story published: 03-05-2013 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

WHO’S THE BOSS? Safety position created, whom person should answer to questioned

By Karen Sells
Assistant Editor

Consideration of an occupational safety and health program for Washington County employees indicates the ongoing struggle for authority between the mayor and county commissioners is still at hand.

A requirement from the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration to update the safety program led Eldridge to propose reinstating a full-time safety coordinator to implement the program.

“We need to take the steps to ensure we are providing a safe work environment,” Mayor Dan Eldridge said during the February commission meeting.

County bookkeeper Diane Lane has been managing the program on a part-time basis.

Her role will now change to full-time safety coordinator and part-time bookkeeper.

The resolution was recommended by both the Public Safety and Budget committees, and received a motion for approval during last week’s full commission meeting from Commissioner Ken Lyon, seconded by Commissioner Sam Phillips.

“I’d like to ask before we vote, do you have everything in place with the salary?” Commissioner Mike Ford asked.

Eldridge said Lane will receive an increase for taking on additional responsibility.

Commissioner Lee Chase suggested the organizational structure, which has the coordinator reporting to Eldridge, be included in the resolution for additional clarification on the position.

“I’m a little confused on where she is going to fall as far as the Safety Committee,” Commissioner Sam Humphreys said.

“She does not report to the Safety Committee,” Eldridge responded.

Commissioner Mitch Meredith cited a comparable example in the county’s director of accounts and budgets. “Bobbye (Webb) doesn’t report to the Budget Committee,” he noted.

Eldridge reminded commissioners of the need to keep separate the responsibilities of the legislative and executive branches, a conversation that has been held more than once.

The commission is the legislative branch, with the role of making laws and approving the budget.

The executive branch, led by the mayor, runs the day-to-day operations of county government.

Chase called for a vote, and the motion passed with unanimous approval.