Morgan–Madison rift widens

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By Tia Lynn Lecorchick managing editor

The Morgan County Board of Commissioners (BOC) followed up their controversial decision to split up the Planning Commission six weeks ago with coming closer to splitting the joint Building Inspection between the county and the city of Madison at the Nov. 4 meeting. A motion made by Commissioner Philip Clack and seconded by Commissioner Ellen Warren to split the joint building inspection between the county and city of Madison stalled when Commissioners Andy Ainslie, Donald Harris and Ron Milton abstained from voting. The abstentions from the three commissioners came as a result of a last-minute request by City Manager David Nunn to meet with the county to further discuss the issue before a decision to split is made. Nunn reached out County Manager Michael Lamar just one day before the BOC was set to vote on the matter, requesting that the building inspection vote be removed from the agenda. Lamar did not feel removing item from the agenda was warranted, but informed commissioners of Nunn’s request for a sit down between county and city leadership. Nunn attended the BOC meeting. Clack and Warren were not swayed by Nunn’s request and voted to split Building Inspection right then, but without a third vote, the motion would not carry. Commissioner Donald Harris thought delaying the vote would be better. “I think we should listen and then we can come back and vote the way we want,” said Harris. “I think we need to try to work together best we can.” Lamar said Nunn’s request the day prior was the first correspondence he received from the city since Sept. 25 and may be too little, too late. “I would go ahead and have the sit down, but I don’t know that it will change our perspective much on this,” said Lamar. Clack noted that the late reply was indicative of the city not making the issue a high priority. “It’s obvious to me that for city—that it wasn’t an important issue to them. Our staff has recommended to us that we separate the inspection portion, too…There is just no way to come up with consistent guidelines because every building process is different,” said Clack. Warren also expressed irritation at the city’s slow response. “We have been discussing this for many months… I have personally told city council members about this back in August and there hasn’t been much concern from them about it,” said Warren. Chuck Jarrell recommended the BOC proceed with the split. “It’s a tough decision, but several incidents in recent months show it’s called for,” said Jarrell. After the meeting, Nunn countered that the county has not been clear about its reasons for desiring these splits and failed to adequately officially notify the city when these matters have been discussed at county meetings. “This is kind of a pattern that we are seeing,” said Nunn. “Until we sit down and talk to the county, we really don’t know why this is happening. Building Inspection has worked well for a long time, we just want to know why all of sudden, they want to divorce us on so many fronts,” said Nunn. According to Nunn, the city did not receive adequate explanation or notification for the Planning Commission split or the building inspection split. “Other than a few innocuous references to the city having a more complicated setup, they really haven’t told us why they are doing this,” said Nunn. Nunn insisted that no matter what the outcome, the city would ensure building inspections are completed in a timely and efficient matter. “We will find another way to do it if we have to,” said Nunn. “We are not going to inconvenience the public—the builders, developers and citizens that need building inspection.” The BOC will tentatively meet with city leadership next week to discuss the matter further. “We will make a decision after that,” said Ainslie.

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