Non-resident property owners can vote in city election after state, city actions

 

By KEVIN DONALDSON

CELINA-Both houses of the state Legislature have passed a city charter resolution amendment, which has been approved on two votes by the board of aldermen, allowing property owners who do not live in the city limits to vote in municipal elections here. 

The state House and Senate both passed the necessary charter amendments recently and the bill has also been signed by Gov. Phil Bredesen. City aldermen have passed the measure twice, once at the regular March meeting, and then again at a special called meeting for that purpose on March 24.

State law requires the city charter “contain an express provision” allowing non-resident property owners the right to vote, and the Celina city charter did not have that provision until the charter was recently amended, officials said. Non-resident voting had mistakenly taken place in the past, officials said. 

Election administrator Frances Donaldson earlier this year sent out notices to non-city residents who were mistakenly on the voter rolls, notifying them they had been purged from the voter list after the mistake was discovered.  

Those people now have the opportunity to re-register as a property owner, Donaldson said, with some exceptions. The charter amendment allows only two property owners per parcel of land on multiply-owned tracts to register to vote as a non-resident. Only people whose name appears on the deed may register. 

The deadline for people affected by the measure or anyone else to register for the upcoming city elections in person is May 1, Donaldson said. The deadline for registration by mail is May 3.   

All registered voters who live within the corporate limits of the city, and all registered voters who reside outside the boundaries of the city who own real property within the city limits consisting of a minimum value of two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500), as determined by the appraised value assessed by the Clay County property tax assessor for the calendar year preceding the city elections, shall be entitled to vote in all city elections and referenda held in the city,” the amendment, found in whole inside today’s paper, said. “Pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated, § 2-2-107. In cases of multiple ownership of real property, no more than two (2) owners who are registered voters shall be eligible to vote under this section.”

The amendment also said candidates for mayor and aldermen should have lived in the city limits for 12 straight months to be eligible to run, and “shall be qualified voters in the city.”

The measure also said it must be passed by a two-thirds majority of the legislative body of the city to take effect, which it has been, officials said. 

In other action at the regular city meeting in March, officials discussed the possibility of extended sewer service in the Clark bottom area not currently covered, and also discussed upcoming water line replacements. Aldermen also passed a resolution thanking Sola Hevi-Duty for multiple years of service to the community.