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Spring City Council elects interim mayor, council member to fill vacated seats

 

By James Tilson

 

02-14-2019

 

New Interim Spring City Mayor Neil Sorensen, right, and Councilman Craig Clark, left, are sworn in by Spring City Recorder Dixie Earl last Thursday night at the Spring City council meeting. Sorensen takes over from Jack Monnett, who resigned to care for his wife. Clark takes over the council seat vacated by Whitney Allred, who resigned to take over as the treasurer.

SPRING CITY—Spring City’s council picks interim mayor, appoints resident to fill council vacancy.

Neil Sorensen, the acting mayor pro tem, and Kimberly Stewart, former councilwoman, had both applied for the interim mayor position. The position came open last month upon the resignation of Mayor Jack Monnett, who had vacated the position to care for his wife. Monnett’s wife was injured in a catastrophic auto accident, which left her without the use of her legs and one arm.

The interim mayor’s term will go until the end of 2019, at which time there will be a new election in Nov. 2019 for a two year term to bring it into line with the other government positions in Spring City.

Sorensen told the council, “I’m not the best person for the job, but I have a great knowledge of the city’s infrastructure.” He asked to be elected to the position in order to continue to oversee the improvement to the city’s infrastructure for the next year.

Stewart agreed with Sorensen’s assertion that he was the most knowledgeable person of Spring City’s infrastructure. “I think Neil should stay on the
New Interim Spring City Mayor Neil Sorensen, right, and Councilman Craig Clark, left, are sworn in by Spring City Recorder Dixie Earl last Thursday night at the Spring City council meeting. Sorensen takes over from Jack Monnett, who resigned to care for his wife. Clark takes over the council seat vacated by Whitney Allred, who resigned to take over as the treasurer. Spring City Council appoints interim mayor, resident will fill council vacancy council, where he can actually vote on the issues in front of the city.” Stewart said she decided to run for mayor, because she could be in the office regularly, and help with the transition to new city staff.

The remaining members of the council voted three to one in favor of Sorensen, and he was sworn in that night.

Also up for election by the council was the council seat vacated by Whitney Allred, who was taking over the position of city treasurer. Jane Hawks, Joe McGriff and Craig Clark all applied for the position. Of the three, Clark was the only lifetime resident, and had been serving on the city’s planning and zoning committee. Clark was elected by the council by a vote of three to one to one.

The council urged the two unsuccessful applicants to apply for the now-vacant seat from Sorensen, which will be decided next month.

Ted Hinckley and John “Tennessee” Stewart asked the council to consider a long-term “arrangement” with the Spring City Bluegrass Festival for use of city grounds, including the City Hall/Community Center for four years. Hinckley and Stewart, who run the festival, explained they were looking for a long-term relationship with the city in order to allow “strategic decision-making” by them for future festivals.

The council closely questioned the two men about the events surrounding last year’s festival, especially certain events surrounding security at the event. Hinckley and Stewart assured the council they had learned from those situations, and they would not be repeated. They also told the council the festival would no longer use the city’s non-profit status for donations, so as to maintain separation from the city.

The city approved their request, with formal contracts to be drafted and signed by the parties.

Before the council meeting, there was also an informational “town meeting” by the planning and zoning committee to talk about planning for future growth. The gathered audience was told that, according to state law and county ordinance, Spring City was required to have a master plan, which addressed future growth.

They said their master plan was made to “preserve our small town feel and open space, flexibility for new businesses and residential development, and maintain property values.”

However, most of the audience were concerned about possible annexation. They were told the city could not initiate an annexation petition, only property owners adjacent to the city could. And then, the pros of annexation – increased property value, access to fire, power, water, sewer and road maintenance services, as well as snow removal, orderly growth and a voice in city policy—far outweighed the cons—higher property taxes, but lower utility costs.