|There's no way I can let this full time mayor thing pass without
making at least an observation or two.
Let me be perfectly clear, I have no idea if Lenoir City needs a full time, paid mayor and a full time administrator but apparently five city councilmen felt they did. I have no idea if a full time Lenoir City mayor should be paid $68,500 per year but apparently five city councilmen did. They could have made the salary a half million dollars if they had wanted to. That's not the purpose of this article. I just need to make a few clarifications and cry foul on a couple of points.
First of all, council did not vote to create the position of full time mayor. The Lenoir City mayor's position has always been a full time, elected position. All the council did was make the salary of the mayor $68,500 which is within their authority as written in the city charter. All duties and responsibilities of the office of mayor are spelled out on the city charter. The council has no authority to change or alter the duties of the mayor. In fact if the council decided to, they could give themselves raises.
Mayor Aikens will be retiring from his chief deputy position with the county sheriff's office at the end of December, current pay $62,200, and will begin receiving the new mayor's salary, $68,500, January 1, 2017.
Now let's talk about "above board".
I noticed Mayor Aikens went to great lengths in the News Herald article to explain how he wanted to be upfront and open with the voters. He was quoted in the News Herald story saying that he just wanted everything to be "above board".
So in order to be "above board" the council added the resolution that would increase the pay of the mayor from $600 per month to $68,500 per year to their agenda at the meeting without any discussion of what the resolution was about only identifying it as Resolution 2016-10-24-2146. Council voted unanimously to add this item to the agenda.
Then at the end of the meeting, a motion made by councilman Mike Henline, seconded by councilman Buddy Hines then passing unanimously still with no discussion of what the resolution was about. Had it not been for the News Herald's reporter asking questions, no one would probably still know what had happened.
The second curious issue with the decision is that, again according the the News Herald article, the first vote that took place to to increase the mayor's pay was back at the first of August by the purchasing committee. This was before the end of the candidate qualifying deadline for anyone to run for mayor and it was never mentioned again till last Monday night's meeting long past the deadline. Who knows, if the word had gotten out that the mayor's job was going to pay $68,500, there might have been others who would have wanted to run for the office. Begs the question, if this had only been discussed in one committee meeting three months ago and hasn't been discussed at any other public meetings, how did all the councilmen know the details of the proposal well enough to vote for it?
Let me say again, I do not care what the Lenoir City mayor's salary is. That's strictly a decision for the council. But when I hear political poppycock, I have to call it what it is. Kind of like when an elected official (TA) says, "I've never voted for a property tax increase" or "I'm all fur annexation".
To my friend Tony Aikens, congratulations on your upcoming retirement and congratulations on your new financial position as the city mayor.