A new policy adopted by the Columbus City Council will impact those seeking appointments to numerous city boards.
At Tuesday’s meeting of the mayor and council, the board voted to limit its appointments to residents living within the city of Columbus. The change will not affect appointees to the municipal school board.
Discussion on the issue began when chief operations officer David Armstrong informed the board that someone seeking reappointment to the city planning commission was not a resident of Columbus.
“Mr. Mayor and Council, we have two vacancies on the city planning commission and two applicants –Wythe Rhett and Phillip Long,” Armstrong said. “Phillip Long lives outside the city limits. It is not a requirement for someone serving on this board to be a city resident. Mayor (Smith) and I discussed this issue this morning. It is up to the board to determine if you want to change it so that only Columbus residents can serve on this board.”
City of Columbus Mayor Robert Smith said he felt the policy for board appointees should be consistent.
“My concern is that if we require appointees on other boards to live in the city, then it should be this way for all of our boards,” he said. “The council needs to make a decision on this tonight.”
Long’s term with the planning commission, where he served as president, expired February 1. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday night. According to Smith, Long was a city resident when he was first appointed to the board.
“The city charter says you cannot serve on a board or commission that is an office of trust unless you live in the city,” board attorney Jeff Turner said. “I don’t feel the planning commission is an office of trust because they don’t handle money.”
Ward 1 Councilman Gene Taylor made a motion requiring planning commission members to be residents of Columbus. The motion was questioned by Box.
“I don’t think we should stop with the planning commission,” Box said. “Why don’t we require all of our appointees to be residents of Columbus, aside from those on the school board?”
Taylor amended his motion to include all boards except the municipal school board, which requires board members to live in the Columbus Municipal School District. The motion passed unanimously.
Appointees to the planning commission will serve a three-year term. The council is expected to fill the vacancies on the commission within 30 days.