Mayor now has authority to hire, suspend

OCN screen shot

City Codes Inspector Kristian Mansell speaks to the City Council about short-term rentals.

By Dewain E. Peek,

OCN Editor

Livingston City Council met in a delayed meeting Monday, Sept. 13 and approved the second reading of an ordinance that gives the mayor authority to hire employees, and to suspend employees.

Lack of a quorum had moved the meeting from Tuesday, Sept. 7, which would have also been a change from the usual first Monday of the month because of Labor Day falling on that day.

Ordinance 2021-8-4 is titled “An Ordinance To Delegate Authority To The Office Of Mayor To Hire And Terminate Certain City Employees” and reads:

“Whereas, the Charter of the Town of Livingston provides that the Board of Aldermen may by ordinance, delegate the authority to hire and terminate to the Office of Mayor; and whereas, the Town of Livingston Board of Mayor and Aldermen have determined that is desirable to delegate such authority to the Mayor and to define the scope and limitations of said authority:

“Now therfore be it ordained, by the Town of Livingston Board of Mayor and Aldermen, as follows:

“The Mayor of the Town of Livingston shall have the authority to hire employees for any budgeted and open positions with the exception of Department Heads and Supervisors which shall require approval of the Board of Aldermen. The Mayor shall also have the authority to suspend any employees of the Town of Livingston but shall not terminate any employee without the approval of the Board of Aldermen.”

Vice Mayor Ken Dodson made a motion to approve second reading of the ordinance, and Alderman Kelly Coleman seconded the motion.

Before the vote, Alderman David Langford said, “Fellas, your mind’s done made up, and that’s fine, everybody’s got an opinion, but now, that’s not the way things are supposed to be.”

On the vote, Vice Mayor Dodson, Coleman, and Alderman Rex Dale voted for the ordinance, and Alderman Langford voted against it. Alderman Chris Speck was not present.

Second reading approval was also given for Ordinance 2021-8-2 and 2021-8-3 to rezone properties of Kenny Winningham, one on McHenry Street and one on Tennessee Drive, respectively, from R2 to C3.

First reading of Ordinance 2021-9-1 was approved, which would establish a hotel/motel tax along with other requirements.

Mayor Hayes noted that Overton County already has a hotel/motel tax.

“The General Assembly has now approved to where cities can get taxes off hotel/motel, including short-term rental,” Mayor Hayes said.

The tax will be 4%.

The ordinance will also require short-term rentals to meet the same codes as hotels and motels.

“The ones that are currently here will be grandfathered in,” Mayor Hayes said.

Fire inspections and egress inspections will be required, according to Livingston Codes Inspector Kristian Mansell.

Of meeting the codes, Mansell said, “The thing we want to make sure is that the tenants there are safe.”

Short-term rentals, such as those through airbnb, will be required to obtain a business license, which has a $100 fee.

“As of right now, in Livingston, short-term rentals are not allowed,” Mansell explained. “There’s nowhere on our books that mentions anything about short-term rentals. So, by rule, if it’s not mentioned in our codes, then it’s not allowed.”

Short-term rentals are those with a term of less than 30 days.

Alderman Langford asked how many short-term rentals are in operation in the city, and Mansell answered that he knows of at least six.

All aldermen present voted to approve the ordinance.

Waterloo Tire owner Delon Clark’s request to purchase an alley next to the business that runs between property he owns on both sides was approved at a selling price of $500.

Mayor Hayes noted that the city will retain a utility easement along the alley, so nothing can be constructed on top of the alleyway.

Mayor Hayes announced that Enbridge Natural Gas is installing gas line at the Overton-Putnam county line. He wanted to be clear that this is not a city project.

“In case you start getting calls that the City of Livingston is going across country with gas lines, that is not the case at all,” Mayor Hayes assured.

He also informed the aldermen that he had asked City Attorney John Meadows for an opinion on mandating that city workers be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Although President Joe Biden recently announced plans to mandate vaccination of all government workers and those employed by businesses with more than 100 employees, Meadows’ opinion noted that Tennessee Code Annotated prohibits cities from requiring employees to be injected with COVID-19 vaccine.

Alderman Coleman asked about the city’s employees and Mayor Hayes said about 55% are vaccinated, and about 8 are out because of COVID-19 protocols.

Livingston Airport had to close its office because of COVID-19 protocols, according to Mayor Hayes.

“It’s mostly affected our public safety – police and fire,” Mayor Hayes said.

Mayor Hayes has mandated that all city employees wear masks while on the job.

Alderman Coleman asked Mansell about the status of the old Co-op building, and Mansell replied that the old Co-op building on Goodpasture Street, as well as a property on Airport Road and a property on Church Street are in the process of having to come into compliance or action will be taken to remove the structures.

The old restaurant on Church Street that currently has no roof is in the process of being reconstructed, according to Mansell.

The meeting adjourned.