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Bennett resigns as assessor

The Unicoi County Commission unanimously accepted the resignation of Patsy Bennett as the county’s assessor of property during its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, March 23.
Bennett submitted her resignation in a letter dated March 17 and addressed to County Mayor Greg Lynch. The letter follows in its entirety:
“It is with great sorrow that I must inform you that I am resigning from my office of tax assessor of Unicoi County effective April 2, 2015. As you know I have not been in the office since late October because of my illness. I have kept in touch with the office making sure that it was running well, as well as doing some work from home. I have a good staff who served the citizens well in my absence. My hope was that my health would improve to the point that I could fulfill my obligations, but it was not meant to be.
“I wish to thank you and the support you have given me in these last few months. I would like to thank the members of my staff who have worked so hard to serve the citizens these last few months. Finally, I want to thank the citizens of Unicoi County who had the confidence in me to elect me to this office. I am sorry my health has deteriorated to the point that I will not be able to complete my term in office.”
Bennett’s term was set to expire in 2016.
During the Commission’s work session held prior to the regular meeting, members briefly discussed the timeline and procedure for appointing Bennett’s replacement. Chairwoman Marie Rice said the Commission has 120 days to make the appointment.
Rice also said the panel would have to wait until April 2, the day Bennett’s resignation takes effect before taking action on the appointment.
During the regular meeting, Commissioner Gene Wilson made a motion to accept Bennett’s resignation, then to advertise the position and begin accepting resumes before interviewing candidates and voting on the appointment at the panel’s April 27 meeting.
Wilson’s motion was seconded by Commissioner Glenn White.
County Attorney Doug Shults advised the Commission that after April 2 County Clerk Mitzi Bowen would officially notify them of the vacancy left by Bennett’s resignation. The position will also be advertised in a newspaper at least seven days prior to the April 27 meeting.
Individuals interested in the position may submit resumes to Lynch’s office until the day of the meeting. Qualifications for the position will be the same as those required for someone seeking election to the office.
Rice also said nominations for the position can be taken from the floor during the April 27 meeting.
The Commission voted 8-0 to accept Bennett’s resignation and Wilson’s motion. Rice, Wilson and White were joined by commissioners Walter Garland, Jason Harris, Marie Rice, Loren Thomas and John Mosley, voting in favor of the resignation and motion. Commissioner Kenneth Garland was absent from the meeting.
Following the vote, Rice expressed appreciation to Bennett for her service.
“I would like to thank Mrs. Bennett for her years of service to this county,” Rice said. “Our prayers go out to her and we do wish her well.”
Rice also said during the work session that Bennett has chosen Wayne Peterson, an employee in her office, to fill her position until the Commission appoints an individual to complete Bennett’s term.
Staffing issues in the assessor’s office were also discussed.
“The biggest question I see is do they have the manpower in the office to be able to get everything (the Commission needs) for the budget,” Rice said. “They’ve got to give us the value of a penny. There’s a lot of work that needs to go on in that office.”
Peterson told the Commission the assessor’s office is facing a busy three-month period.
“We have 90 days to accomplish a lot of things,” Peterson said.