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Murray City Council Talks Changes to City Gov't, Gentry House

The Murray City Council is debating reducing the council's size, meeting load and number of committees.

City administrator Matt Mattingly prompted a lengthy discussion among council members at Thursday night's meeting after putting forth a proposal to reduce standing committees -  and cut city council meetings to one per month – in order to make the city more efficient.

From there the discussion turned to the size of the 12-member council. Councilman Jason Pittman said he would support cutting that number in half.

“I think six gives Murray great representation,” Pittman said. “I believe it’s up to the voters ultimately to decide who represents them and I think six is a good number.”

Councilman Butch Seargent said he also supported the idea of a six-member council. Councilwoman Linda Cherry said she is opposed and that it would result in too few people with too much power.

Other proposals were discussed at the meeting including council member districting and a staggered election cycle.

“You would have half of your council members for a one-year term, or two-year terms, then six of them would roll off and six more would be elected again,” Mattingly said. “Now it’s 12 council members every two years. So every year you would see six come on or come off.”

That change would require a vote by Murray residents, but the others would be decided by the council itself. If the council wants to reduce the number of members for November’s election, they must act by March 9.

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There was also a discussion involving a Murray nonprofit that provides housing to homeless families, and its board’s decision to remain open through June 30.

The Gentry House board rescinded its decision to close at a meeting Jan. 17, as city leaders continue to brainstorm different proposals for keeping the four-unit building afloat. Mayor Bill Wells said this extension buys all parties involved time to achieve a sustainable model for Gentry House.

The board made the decision to close last month due to a lack of funding and staffing difficulties.

In other news:

  • The council heard a presentation by Alexander, Thompson, Arnold CPA Jason Anderson concerning the city's fiscal year 2013 audit, which found an increase of $195,000 in taxes for the city's general fund.
  • Councilman Pat Scott said the public works committee is discussing the idea of renaming Chestnut Street "Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive."
John Null is the host and creator of Left of the Dial. From 2013-2016, he also served as a reporter in the WKMS newsroom.
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