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Commissioners approve budget committee appointees

For Washington County Mayor Dan Eldridge, the second time was a charm when it came to getting commission approval for his budget committee appointees.
In September, county commissioners voted against his recommendation to appoint two non-commissioners to the committee. The split vote came after a lengthy discussion, in which several commissioners said they were insulted by Eldridge’s decision to appoint non-commissioners to the committee.
Eldridge was not at Monday’s meeting to see his latest recommendations approved. He left just as the meeting started after receiving word his wife had been in a car accident.
With Vice Chair Greg Matherly taking the helm in Eldridge’s absence, commissioners unanimously approved the appointment of four commissioners — Pat Wolfe, Mitch Meredith, Joe Grandy and Mark Larkey — to the budget committee without further discussion. The motion to approve the committee was made by Commissioner Doyle Cloyd and seconded by Commissioner Sam Phillips.
Commissioners also approved the appointment of several individuals to the public records commission, a group that will spearhead plans to create an official archive for the county.
Named to that committee were Commissioners Sam Humphreys and Alpha Bridger as well as Judge Thomas Seeley Jr., County Clerk Kathy Storey, Register of Deeds Ginger Jilton, County Historian John Kiener and citizens Ned Irwin and Dr. Bill Kennedy.
A request to discuss and possibly take action on the issue of county commissioners receiving health benefits was deferred.
Commissioner David Tomita, who made the request at last month’s meeting, asked for it to be referred to the county’s Commercial, Industrial, Agriculture committee for further review and a recommendation to the full commission.
Also put on the backburner was the discussion of the size of the commission. Last month, Commissioner Joe Grandy requested the size of the commission be discussed at the next meeting.
On Monday, Commissioner Pat Wolfe said the issue would be addressed at the start of next year, once data from the recent census is released.
“We will make that determination ourselves after the first of the year,” Wolfe said. “Once the census is out, we will elect a reapportionment committee to study and determine the number of commissioners and, according to population, how we will be distributed to districts.”
According to County Attorney John Rambo, the data will likely come out in April 2011, at which time commissioners will have to address not only the commission’s size and districts, but also redistricting for the Washington County Board of Education and constables.
As for the size of the commission, it can be anywhere from nine commissioners to 25 commissioners, Rambo said. Currently, it includes 25 members.
Decisions regarding redistricting as well as the possible resizing of the commission must be made by January 2012, Rambo said.
Before the close of the meeting, Matherly informed the commission and those in attendance that Eldridge’s wife appeared to be OK.
Her car accident took place during the significant storm that ripped through the area Monday morning, causing major damage throughout the county.