Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell will ask Blount County Commissioners to approve a pay cut for the county’s highest paid constitutional officer -- himself.
The mayor told Blount Today Friday that he wants a 12.8 percent pay cut, retroactive to Jan. 1, and will ask commissioners to approve it during the regularly scheduled commission meeting on Thursday, Jan. 20.
The mayor will make the proposal during the Monday, Jan. 10, Budget Committee meeting. The meeting is a 5:30 p.m. in room 430 at the Blount County Courthouse.
The new mayor said he wants to set an example and it is the most he could reduce his pay according to state law, which sets a minimum salary for all constitutional officers in Tennessee based on county population.
“In these economic times when so many people in Blount County are struggling to make ends meet, and with the budget and deficit issues we’re facing in Blount County, I feel it is the right thing to do,” he said.
The mayor currently makes $118,492. With the 12.8 percent reduction of $15,167, his salary would be $103,325. According to TCA 8-24-102e, the mayor’s salary must be at least 5 percent higher than the salary paid to any other county constitutional officer.
“When we start looking at the cuts in expenditures we’re going to be forced to implement in the coming year, I think it is only right the mayor take the first step,” Mitchell said. “I can’t ask the employees to make sacrifices unless I am willing to do the same. I can’t truly represent all of the people in Blount County unless I am spending their taxes how they want and expect me to.”
The mayor, who was the retired fire chief for the City of Maryville before running for Blount County mayor, said once he got into office and saw the budget situation facing the county, he knew there were going to have to be dramatic changes happening. “We’re looking at the deficit, and we’re going to have to make up about $6.5 million. We can’t go to fund balance anymore, and I will not propose or endorse a tax increase,” he said. “If nothing else in eight months of campaigning, one thing I saw and heard was people can’t pay any more taxes. There are too many people, families and businesses who are hurting.”
If there are no new taxes, Mitchell said cuts will have to be made in government itself.
“With that being said, I always think the right thing to do is the one at the top - the mayor - should be the one to take the first sacrifice,” he said.
The mayor said individuals, families and businesses have all had to streamline and cut and make themselves leaner. “You have good times where there’s plenty and times when you tighten up,” he said. “Government has really never been forced to tighten up, but guess what, the time has come when government has to tighten up. We have to streamline, and we have to become efficient.”
Any resolution coming before the commission has to be introduced by a commissioner. The resolution to reduce the mayor’s pay is sponsored by commissioners Mike Lewis and Steve Samples.