Commissioners may decide who pays Pension Suit lawyers

By Mike Steely

The Knox County Commission meets in work session Tuesday to possibly decide which county department pays the $165,000 lawyer fees in the settlement of the suit against the Knox County Retirement and Pension Board. The commission meets on Tuesday because all City-County offices were closed on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday

Two items are on the agenda, both presented by the finance department, and both with a blank space for the account that would be charged. Some of the commissioners have said in past meetings that the law department should foot the bill since it initiated the original suit.

But the commission voted to settle the dispute, prompted by County Mayor Glen Jacobs, and then voted to hire an outside firm to represent the county in the settlement.

One resolution calls for attorney fees for individual and class defendants, $97,500, a mediator fee of $3,150, and the outside counsel of Arnett, Draper and Hagood, LLP in the amount of $48,895.

The second resolution calls for reimbursement of attorney fees previously paid by current or former sheriff’s department employees for attorneys in the amount of $17,562.60.

If the debate on the fees echoes previous discussions the commission may split on a vote to designate which department will be paying the fees.

The commission is also being asked to approve a contract with Gresham Smith and Partners for a Greenway Corridor Study. The $300,000 is mostly funded by grant money. The study will look at long range improvements for greenways on Northshore, Beaver Creek, Chapman Highway and part of the Governor John Sevier Highway.

Also on the agenda is a motion to honor Rick Dover and Dover Development for the Historic Knoxville High project being named America’s best senior living renovation project. The motion comes from Commissioners Justin Biggs and Hugh Nystrom.

Commissioner Carson Dailey, who has been recovering from a second knee operation, is being named along with Laura Nolen and Lynn Jessee to the agricultural extension committee.

South Knox County may get some attention as the school system is proposing slope and construction easements on county property at 801 Sevier Avenue at South Knoxville Elementary School.

Maynardville Highway may be approved for street lighting improvements in a $149,207 contract with Progressive Electric, LLC. and funds from Homeland Security of just over $352,000 may be approved for the training of 16 counties in the Tennessee Homeland Security District 2 which includes Knox County.

Chairman Nystrom is asking for a vote of support of the state general assembly’s effort to drop any requirement for a comprehensive growth plan in Knox County.

The merit council is asking to be permitted to name an alternate member for absent regular members of that group. Commissioner Larsen Jay wants a discussion on the Northshore Safety and Connectivity Project.

The planning commission is asking for a code change to classify lot requirement for hotels, motels and transient mobile home parks.