Roll call: Blount County Commission attendance varies among members
By Joel Davis | (email@example.com)
The Blount County Commission has five members in the perfect attendance club.
Out of the 33 regular commission meetings held since this term of the County Commission convened in September 2010, Commissioners Richard Carver, Tom Greene, Gerald Kirby, Kenneth Melton, and Gordon Wright have missed no meetings.
By contrast, the four commissioners with the most absences are: Brad Harrison, 4 absences; Monika Murrell, 7; Mike Lewis, 6; and Peggy Lambert, 9.
Melton said attendance is what commissioners owe their constituents. “I’m always there. It’s very important. It is the reason the people elected you to be there.”
Commissioners draw a $405 salary per month regardless of actual attendance. They receive no health benefits.
Lambert, who has missed about 27 percent of the meetings, attributes her absences to a variety of factors.
“Normally, it is when I’m out of town on business,” she said. “We still have to make a living. I am also in other activities that are very important. Sometimes I’m absent due to illnesses and surgeries. I keep up with issues, and I vote my conscience. I make no apologies.”
Murrell and Lewis could not be reached for comment regarding their absences.
Harrison said his absences were related to family obligations. “Usually those absences were due to being on vacation with my family,” he said. “They come with the July meetings.”
Kirby, who has perfect attendance, said he is concerned that the presentation of an Aug. 11 story in The Daily Times gave some residents the impression that commissioners had missed several meetings concerning school funding. The story, which detailed answers to questions concerning school fund levels, did not reflect attendance of actual meetings.
Commissioners are not missing meeting en masse, Kirby said.
“We run ourselves to death for $405 per month less tax. I don’t even get gas for what I run. None of us do it for the money. We do it for the betterment of the county. “I talk to everyone in the county. I talk to anybody about their problems.”
Most commissioners usually have good reasons for the few times they miss, Kirby said. “They will be out for vacation. They will be out for sickness. They just do the job they are elected to do.”