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Alderman John Matthews, left, and Alderman Johnny Sisk voice their opposition to the pay-raise ordinance.

KIMBALL, Tenn. — The fourth push this year to give the city's mayor and vice mayor a raise went down in defeat at the August meeting of the Kimball Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

The first time it was proposed in May, the board tabled the matter for further examination.

A proposed ordinance unveiled in June would have doubled the mayor's pay, from $17,400 a year to $34,800, and created a separate compensation package raising the vice mayor's salary from $7,200 to $9,600 a year. That proposal failed on a 2-2 vote, with Alderman Mark Payne absent.

In July, though, the ordinance got new life, passing 3-2 on first reading.

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Kimball Vice Mayor Jerry Don Case discusses the pay raise ordinance.
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Mayor Rex Pesnell

On the second and final reading at the August meeting, Mayor Rex Pesnell asked to amend the ordinance to give the mayor a 50 percent increase, or $26,100 annually, instead of 100 percent.

He said he "considers it a compliment" that both the board and citizens agree the position deserves at least some increase in pay, and said the rest of the ordinance should remain as written.

"My intention is to try to unite the board and the citizens and the employees of the town," Pesnell said. "That's what I tried to do and have made concessions to that. I feel like I've done my part. I've done everything I know to do."

Vice Mayor Jerry Don Case said money for the raises is already in the budget.

"We're trying to work a happy medium here and get everybody together and work together and everything be, hopefully, fine and dandy," he said.

But Payne was absent again and the ordinance failed on a 2-2 vote.

Case said he didn't understand the opposition to the ordinance from aldermen Johnny Sisk and John Matthews.

"You didn't want 100 percent [increase], and now you don't want 50 percent," he said. "So I don't know what you want."

Sisk said he'd be willing to increase the mayor's salary to $21,000 per year and tack on annual raises if all employees get them in the future.

"I can't go $26,000," Sisk said.

Matthews said his position hasn't changed since May.

He said it was "honorable" for Pesnell to reduce the proposed mayoral raise by half, but said he and the other city leaders "knew going in" what the salaries were.

"Being elected, I knew in November what [serving as an alderman] was going to pay," Matthews said. "Each one here knew, and four months later to start talking about raises, I couldn't go for that."

He agreed with Sisk that the mayor should get the same raises as other city employees.

Since the matter ended in a tie vote, City Attorney Billy Gouger said the ordinance is eligible for consideration at the board's next meeting.

"Looks like we're going to go to round five then," Case said.

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.

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