Knox County Commission discusses civil service merit system

Knoxville (WVLT) - After seven grueling hours, the Knox County Commissioners adjourned their marathon meeting, but not before passing a first reading on civil service merit system for county employees or before authorizing the hire of outside legal council to assist in reviewing audits.

Knox County Commission is considering the civil service merit system for all Knox County employees. Commissioner Elaine Davis says she's had a lot of employees come to her quietly to ask for this system.

"Gives them all protection so not at will employees gives them merit based hiring system or firing system," commissioner Elaine Davis said. "Helps eliminate cronyism and nepotism that we've seen."

But it could be costly for the county and the county already has structured policies and procedures.

"At this point in time i'm not exactly sure what advantage is to be gained by implementing a civil service system," Human Resources Director Francis Fogerson said.

The commissioners also approved the request to hire outside legal counsel to advise in matters regarding the Knox County auditor's review of mayor's hospitality account and the review of community grants.

"We want that outside counsel to give us an unbiased opinion," Davis said.

And how does the current law director feel about this motion?

"I certainly don't have a problem with that," Knox County Law Director John Owings said. "It certainly doesn't relieve the county duties or the law director of his responsibilities."

So now an outside law director will be discussed then decided upon, and a second reading is on the horizon for the proposed civil service merit system.

There will be two public hearings on the civil service merit system then a second reading. If it passes, Knox County voters will vote on the issue in November.

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