CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Now is not the time for the Tennessee Valley Authority's chief to receive a raise that triples his annual salary to more than $3 million, according to a Bradley County commissioner.
TVA Chief Executive Officer Tom Kilgore was paid $3.6 million for the federal fiscal year ending in September. Bradley Commissioner Jeff Yarber has a resolution for next Monday's commission voting session, asking TVA to reconsider the increase.
But TVA says the increase is the result of performance and a good year.
Yarber said Kilgore's raise sends a bad message with people out of work or struggling to make ends meet in the current economy.
"State employees aren't getting raises. County employees aren't getting raises. Power bills are rising," Yarber said at a recent commission meeting. "The voice [of opposition] has to start somewhere. Nobody will probably hear us."
But he wants the local resolution, being written this week, to be circulated to surrounding county commissions as well.
"I agree with Mr. Yarber, which is a rare thing," Commissioner Mel Griffith said.
TVA officials said Kilgore's raise was necessary to keep his salary in line with other CEOs at other utilities and also was based on certain goals set by the utility.
"TVA has to compete with other utilities for the skilled people to run the power system, one of the largest in the nation,'' said TVA spokesman Scott Brooks. "TVA uses a compensation plan that is performance-driven and market-based. That means a majority of Mr. Kilgore's compensation is based on his ability, and the company's, to meet specific objectives.
"Fiscal 2010 was a good year, with electricity rates below the national average and 9 percent below the year before.''
Cleveland Utilities Director Tom Wheeler said Monday his personal opinion is that now is not the time for such a pay increase.
"I have expressed my own disappointment as a personal opinion," Wheeler said.
But Wheeler said he does not plan to bring a similar resolution request to the Cleveland Utilities Board when it meets Thursday.
The Tennessee unemployment rate for October was 9.4 percent, compared to the U.S. rate of 9.6 percent, according to the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
In the Cleveland Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Bradley and Polk counties, the October jobless rates were 8.8 percent for Cleveland, 8.5 percent for Bradley County and 11 percent for Polk County, according to the state.
Statistics on the number of local requests for utility bill assistance were not available Monday.
Contact Randall Higgins at email@example.com or 423-314-1029.