Sullivan County Commission set to appoint temporary property assessor

J. H. Osborne • Jun 21, 2017 at 8:30 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — If you're interested in a $90,000-plus-per-year job, with a guaranteed raise of more than $4,000 within a couple of weeks, you might want to dust off your resume and bring it to the Sullivan County Commission next Monday.

The commission is scheduled to appoint someone county property assessor, an office declared vacant after the death of Ron Hillman earlier this month.

Required qualifications to hold the job are minimal under state law: pretty much be at least 18 years old and not convicted of certain "infamous" crimes. Duties include two basic functions: appraisal and assessment of taxable real and personal property in the county.

The pay: currently a mininum of $90,208 per year; set to increase to a minimum of $94,719 on July 1.

State law calls for the commission to fill the position within 120 days of the vacancy. The person appointed by the commission will hold the office until the next regularly scheduled August election, which is Aug. 2, 2018. Voters at that time will elect someone to fill out the remainder of Hillman's unexpired term, which ends in August 2020.

The vacancy and the commission's upcoming appointment were advertised in the Times-News classifieds last week.

Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable said as of Monday afternoon he had had three people confirm interest in seeking the appointment. Venable said anyone interested in the appointment should try to submit a resume to his office prior to next week's meeting to make sure each of the county's 24 commissioners have a copy prior to a vote.

Venable said when the commission meets next week he will first open the floor to public comment on the matter. That will give anyone who wants to ask for the appointment a chance to speak up. But nominations may only come from county commissioners.

Venable said once county commissioners make nominations and a ballot is set, there will be a roll-call vote. To win the appointment, a nominee must receive at least a simple majority of those commissioners eligible to vote. Any commissioners who is nominated will not be eligible to vote. If there are more than two nominees, and no one receives a majority vote on the first round, the one with the lowest vote will be dropped and a second roll call will be taken. This will continue until there is a clear winner. If it becomes clear no nominee is going to get the required majority, Venable said he would be inclined to postpone the appointment until the commission’s July meeting.

Commissioner Randy Morrell, a longtime employee of the property assessor's office, was Hillman's chief deputy assessor and, by law, has been performing the duties of assessor since Hillman's death.

That might make Morrell sound like a shoo-in for the temporary appointment until next year's election when voters will make a choice at the ballot box.

But races for county government offices are partisan. The Sullivan County Commission is dominated by the GOP; 22 of 24 members ran and won as Republicans. Morrell is one of only two commissioners who did not. The Sullivan County Democratic Party does not hold primaries for County Commission races.

The Sullivan County Commission is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. Monday on the second floor of the historic Sullivan County Courthouse.