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Womack Wants High-Level CRMC Staff Limited From Serving On Council

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Womack Wants High-Level CRMC Staff Limited From Serving On Council

Cookeville City Council member Charles Womack wants the city’s charter changed to prohibit senior employees at Cookeville Regional from serving on city council.

Under the resolution that will be considered Thursday night, any high level employees including chiefs and department heads would be prohibited from serving on council while remaining employed at Cookeville Regional.

“I thought it would be reasonable to limit the high level employees working at the hospital, just like the regular city employees serving on the council,” Womack said.

The some 2,500 city employees cannot serve on the council. They can run for council, but would have to resign their city position if elected to the council. The same would be true for upper-level Cookeville Regional employees if the charter change happens. City Manager James Mills said after consulting with CEO Paul Korth Monday, the resolution would limit around 100 people from serving on the council.

Womack’s move comes amidst his concerns about Mayor Ricky Shelton’s hiring as Cookeville Regional’s Chief Strategy Officer. Cookeville Regional employees are not city employees. CRMC operates as a totally separate organization with no oversight from the city except for budget approval and real estate transactions.

The charter change would go into effect for the 2022 election.

“I’m trying to understand what the goal here is,” Council Member Eric Walker said. “I mean, I understand there’s a conversation to be had about, you know, if if the hospital administrator wants to run for city council to pass a budget. Because of that extreme, it certainly could be a difficult thing.”

Walker and council member Laurin Wheaton asked Mills to provide an organizational chart before Thursday’s meeting to better understand the CRMC structure.

“I think the main thing you don’t want to have in your charter is anything that’s ambiguous and creates a question of whether or not this qualifies or not,” City Attorney Dan Rader said. “I think you need to destroy your definition as as close as you can so there won’t be any ambiguities in it.”

If council approved the resolution, it would go to the local legislators to present to the State Legislature for passage. If approved in the legislature, it would come back to the council where four of the six council members would need to approve the charter change.

Mills said the charter change must be to Representative Ryan Williams before March 15 to be considered this session.


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