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Charter Amendments on the ballot: What they say, What they mean

By Tasha Mahurin
mahurint@knoxfocus.com
Ballot Question for Proposed Amendment 1:
Shall Article VII of the Knox County Charter, entitled “Pensions”, be amended to:  (1.) close the present Uniformed Officers Pension Plan to new participants, effective December 31, 2012; and (2.) direct the Knox County Retirement and Pension Board to recommend for approval by the Knox County Commission a new Uniformed Officers Pension Plan for sworn officers regularly employed by the Knox County Sherriff’s Office employed on or after January 1, 2014?
Explanation:
A vote to approve this amendment would close the pension plan for uniformed officers within Knox County and require the Pension Board to develop a new retirement package for uniformed officers hired on or after January 1, 2014.
Ballot Question for Proposed Amendment 2:
Shall Section 9.17 of the Knox County Charter, entitled “Term Limits”, be amended to: (1.) clarify that no person should be able to hold the same elected office of Knox County for more than two consecutive terms, (2.) define a “term” as a full elected period as prescribed by law; and (3.) permit a person who is term limited in one office to serve in a different elected office?
Explanation:
A vote to approve this measure ensures that a partial term will not count against a two-term limit. The second part of this amendment merely clarifies that a partial term is not considered a “term”, while the final measure ensures that officials are eligible to run for another office within the county.
Ballot Question for Proposed Amendment 3:
Shall Section 9.17 of the Knox County Charter, entitled “Term Limits”, be amended to provide that the members of Commission elected by districts and the members of Commission elected at-large be considered the same elected office for the purpose of term limits?
Explanation:
A vote to approve this measure ensures that a commissioner elected at-large is unable to run again for a consecutive commission seat within a district or vice versa.
Ballot Questions for Proposed Amendment 4:
Shall Section 6.01.B of the Knox County Charter be amended to provide that the nine members of the Board of Education be elected according to state law and not connect the time of election of Board of Education members to that of the County Assessor of Property?
Explanation:
This amendment specifically addresses the Board of Education. The state’s law regarding the election of school board members makes clear that they are to serve in staggered terms, so that there will not be a time when the entire membership is new. Our present County Charter provided for that by establishing the election of five (5) members concurrently with the mayor (then called the “executive”), and four (4) members concurrently with the property assessor. This practice is no longer necessary, as the BOE’s election cycle is now set and, pursuant to T.C.A. § 49-2-201, are to “be popularly elected on a staggered term basis.” Presuming this charter amendment passes, the Board’s elections would no longer be tied to those of the mayor, property assessor, or any other official.
Ballot Question for Proposed Amendment 5:
Shall Section 2.09.A (4)(c) of the Knox County Charter be amended to clarify  that any ordinance of the Knox County Commission to reapportion Commission or Board of Education districts be adopted by a favorable vote of two-thirds (2/3) of the membership of commission?
Explanation:
This measure requires that the redistricting or reapportioning of school board districts within Knox County require the same two-third majority as that of the redistricting or reapportioning of Knox County commission districts.
Ballot Question for Proposed Amendment 6:
Shall Section 6.01.D of the Knox County Charter be amended to conform to state law and place the responsibility of reapportioning Knox County Board of Education districts with the Knox County Commission?
Explanation:
A vote to approve this measure would clarify that the responsibility for defining school board districts lies solely within the Knox County Commission, in accordance with state law.
Ballot Question for Proposed Amendment 7:
Shall Section 9.17 of the Knox County Charter, entitled “Term Limits,” be amended to no longer require the Knox County Clerk to annually write Knox County’s state legislators and U.S. Representative and both U.S. Senators from Tennessee stating the people’s support of term limits at both the state and federal levels?
Explanation:
A vote to approve this measure would alleviate the Knox County Court Clerk from the duty of lobbying state and federal officials on behalf of the people of Knox County regarding the institution of term limits at both the state and federal level.

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