Sullivan Co. commissioner can’t vote on budget, county attorney explains why

A Sullivan County commissioner had to sit out of the recent vote on a 27-cent property tax increase.

Commissioner Andy Hare said that’s because of a technicality discovered just days before the vote.

On Thursday we found out because of that, citizens like Phil Torbett, are concerned they are not getting the representation they deserve.

“When you got somebody that doesn’t even have a vote, how can you have any accountability,” said Torbett.

Piney Flats is a place Torbett has called home his whole life, so he is pretty familiar with most people, including those commissioners who represent his district.

“I call them pretty regular about votes,” said Torbett.

But an action taken by one of his district’s commissioners, Andy Hare, had Torbett shaking his head.

“I want to see somebody that can vote on the budget, plain and simple,” said Torbett.

Torbett is referring to the most recent Sullivan County commission meeting, where commissioners finalized a budget and a 27-cent property tax hike.

But in that final vote, Hare had to sit out.

County Attorney Dan Street explains that’s because Hare was hired with Sullivan County Schools after he was elected.

“The Attorney Generals office has given a couple of opinions that they believe that, that statute should be interpreted to mean that a commissioner cannot vote on a budget that includes his salary,” said Street.

Street says its something he is continuing to look into.

“Well what exactly can he vote on, and what exactly can’t he vote on,” said Street.

While street is still working to sort out those answers, Hare says there is no need for people in his district to be concerned.

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“I am doing that job ,I’m doing it to the best of my ability, I’m doing it with their best interest at heart,” said Hare.

Hare explains he was the one who even brought the issue to Street’s attention.

“So that ought to be a testament to the integrity I have and how they are being represented in Blountville,” said Hare.

As Street continues to look into the legality of the entire voting issue he left us with this perspective.

“The fact that he can’t vote has no effect on the ultimate outcome of the vote, because if he votes they have to have 13, and if he doesn’t they have to have 12 so they don’t really need Andy’s vote, unless I’m missing something,” said Street.

Street says he will continue to research this matter.

Copyright WJHL 2015. All rights reserved.

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