By Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
The new Carter County Fiscal Court may be made up of a judge and magistrates who all hail from the same party, but if you expected that to mean they would vote in lock step – even on a routine employee approval – you’d have been mistaken.
The court met in special session last Wednesday, their first meeting since taking their new seats.
The agenda was brief, and included approval of the county employees and the appointment of the county road foreman. These are both routine items that need to be done periodically, as contracts expire.
District one magistrate Chris Huddle, the only incumbent to win re-election in November, made a motion to approve the employee list.
“We have a good staff,” Huddle noted before making the motion.
But some of the new magistrates weren’t immediately comfortable with approving the county’s staff.
Magistrate Millard Cordle, district three, initially abstained before changing his vote to an aye, but not before verbally sparring with road foreman Jason Carroll over the size and duties of his crews.
Cordle, in offering his abstention, told the court he had been elected because “people had questions” and he had promised to look into those questions. He said some of those questions revolved around the way county crews were staffed. He told the court that, before voting, he would like the opportunity to look the list of county employees over for “wasteful spending.”
As an example he directed a question to Carroll about the number of operators on his staff.
“There’s six or seven operators,” Cordle said. “Are they guys that can run one machine? Or can they run anything?”
Cordle said he believed the county should hire people who could operate any machine, so they could do more work with less staff.
“Do you mean operate? Or drive up and down the road?” Carroll countered, noting there was a difference between knowing the controls and operating a piece of machinery effectively.
Cordle also made a claim that he had seen staff lounging instead of working, and asked why it would take two men to deliver a load of gravel.
Carroll – apparently aware of the exact situation Cordle was talking about – explained that on the day Cordle had seen two men in a dump truck loaded with gravel one of those men was the grader operator. He was simply being transported by the dump truck driver since he had been unable to grade in the conditions caused by heavy rains.
After the back and forth over road crews, Cordle changed his vote to yes after new Judge Executive Brandon Burton, who previously served as the magistrate in district five, explained that the necessity of approving these working orders.
But while Cordle changed his vote to yes, despite his concerns over the road department, district two magistrate Derrick McKinney quietly voted no on the measure.
McKinney also voted no on the reappointment of Jason Carroll as county road foreman. Cordle voted aye along with the other magistrates despite his questioning of Carroll – a move he telegraphed while raising his concerns about the composition of the road crew.
McKinney didn’t explain why he voted no, but it follows a pattern he set while serving on Grayson City Council. In that role, as well, McKinney voted no or abstained from voting in situations where he felt he or council hadn’t had sufficient time to examine details.
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