Duties of the Chairperson (or Chairperson Pro Tempore)

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The chairperson of the county commission is required to preside over the sessions of the county commission. T.C.A. § 5-5-103.  A chairperson “holds over” and is the presiding officer until his or her successor is duly elected. Op.Tenn. Atty Gen. 86-162 (September 15, 1986).  Generally, the chairperson’s duties include the following:

  1. Opening the session at the proper time by taking the chair and calling the members to order; announcing the business before the body in the order it is to be acted upon; stating and putting to vote all motions, resolutions, amendments or other questions which lawfully come before the body; and announcing the results of the vote.
  2. Keeping order, recognizing each member's right to speak on an issue and assigning the floor to those properly entitled to it.
  3. Assuring only one main motion or resolution is entertained at a time and disallowing debate on the issue until the motion has been properly seconded and announced.
  4. Being fair and impartial while presiding and refraining from discussion on issues; being courteous to those whose views differ from the chairperson’s.
  5. Surrendering the chair prior to taking part in debate.
  6. Voting if a member of the body; voting only to break a tie vote if a county mayor chairperson.
  7. Performing other duties pursuant to procedure adopted by resolution of the body.

When the chair steps down to participate in debate, she/he cannot return to the chair until the issue is disposed of in some manner. It is always improper for the chair to voice an opinion or debate the pending issue while acting as chair. The chair can answer questions, refer questions to the maker of the motion, rule on parliamentary questions, etc., during the debate of any issue.

If the chairperson is unable or fails to attend a meeting of the county commission, it is the duty of the chairperson pro tempore to discharge the duties of the office of chair.  If neither the chairperson nor the chairperson pro tempore is present, the county commission appoints a temporary chairperson pro tempore to preside over the meeting. T.C.A. § 5-5-103.

If the county mayor is absent or intends to be absent for more than 21 days, or is incapacitated or unable to perform the duties of the office, the county commission will appoint the chair to serve until the county mayor is no longer absent or disabled.  When the chairperson is serving as county mayor, the chair pro tempore presides over the county commission. T.C.A. § 5-5-103.