Come Election Day in November, Nashville voters may decide whether heads of Metro departments are required to reside in Davidson County.
Metro Councilman Rip Ryman told The City Paper he is prepared to file an ordinance to amend the Metro Charter, mandating all directors and assistant directors of Metro departments live within Davidson County.
Current department heads who already live out of the county would have six months to move to Nashville if the charter amendment were to pass.
As a charter amendment, the ordinance would need to be approved by a two-thirds council majority and be cleared by the Charter Revision Commission to go on a ballot. Ryman said he plans to file the bill in early August, which, if approved by the council, would allow the issue to go before Davidson County voters on Nov. 2.
Every year during budget hearings, Ryman said he looks at the number of directors and assistant directors who live outside of Davidson County. This year, he noticed more than usual, at least seven or eight, he said.
“It’s my contention, especially with those type of jobs that are vital to the operation of the city government, that those directors need to live in the county,” Ryman said. “They’re the highest paid people in Metro. Our taxpayers don’t need to be paying them to live out of the county.”
Under current law, Ryman said, “You could have your police chief, fire chief, all those people living out of the county.”
Ryman said he’s talked to a few other council members who have indicated they would sign onto the charter amendment, including At-large Councilman Charlie Tygard, who plans to be a co-sponsor.
“I understand employees that want to farm and can’t afford Davidson County property, etc.,” Tygard said. “But department heads, when we have emergencies and whatnot, they ought to have a stake in it and have some skin in the game.”
According to Tygard, the Metro Department of Law has issued a legal opinion that supports the constitutionality of the proposed charter amendment.