Council eases residency rule for vacant finance position

Published 9:16 am Wednesday, January 26, 2011


FRANKLIN—The City Council on Monday voted 5-1 to exempt the vacant finance director’s position from a residency rule for department heads.

Councilman Don Blythe cast the dissenting vote.

During a discussion about the finance position, which has been vacant for 16 months, Councilman Benny Burgess suggested the council forgo the residency requirement in order to open the field for more candidates.

Burgess said there should be “some allowance” to consider candidates who might not live in Franklin but live nearby.

“We are having a hard time filling (the) finance director (position),” he said. “We need to remove all barriers to get the position filled.”

However, Blythe said that removing the residency requirement would be unfair to current department heads, who were obligated to move to Franklin within a year after their employment.

“Either you have it for everybody, or you don’t have it,” he said.

Mayor Jim Councill said the exemption is fair because “it’s a different day,” and in the current economy, the rule needs to be adjusted.

During the meeting, Lou Zammett was introduced as the new interim finance director. Zammett is the fourth person to be contracted for the position since former Director of Finance Brian Stump resigned on Oct. 9, 2009.

“We are locked in, and we’re going to have to relax some of our rules,” Councilwoman Mary Hilliard said.

Surrounding areas without a residency requirement have filled their director of finance positions, City Manager June Fleming said.

Vice Mayor Raystine Johnson said she had a problem with changing the policy.

She said there were people who were up for positions but did not take the jobs because they lived outside Franklin.

“We’ve had people that sacrificed and moved here whether they wanted to or not,” Johnson said.

The vice mayor said her concern was a need for consistency in the policy, not the policy itself.

Blythe said he was not in favor of changing policy and that it would be an unfair change.

“We need to be more firm in what we’re doing here,” he said.

Burgess suggested that that the city manager come to the council if she is having trouble filling a position, and the members could decide if the residency requirement should be lifted to widen the field of applicants.