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guest views: TVA pay

In a letter to William Sansom, TVA chairman of the board, U.S. Congressman John J. “Jimmy” Duncan Jr. wrote:

Each year an overwhelming majority of the people in this region become extremely upset about the millions of dollars in bonuses Tennessee Valley Authority gives to its top-level employees.

Now I am hearing an even stronger reaction to the salary and bonus package, totaling $3.27 million, given to Mr. [Tom] Kilgore, [TVA president and CEO.]

I have very great respect for you, Mr. Kilgore and each member of the Board whom I know. However, this pay raise is excessive and very unnecessary.

Further, the timing could not be worse. Announcing this raise on the same day the nation officially enters a recession, when many people are struggling to make ends meet, is just very unfortunate.

It becomes even worse when it follows a large rate increase that even Mr. Kilgore says may be able to be rescinded in a few months due to the decrease in fuel costs.

According to the Knoxville News-Sentinel, Mr. Kilgore says he did not request or seek a pay raise, but he was “overruled” by the Board.

As much as I admire and respect Mr. Kilgore, no one is indispensable or irreplaceable. I am convinced that many really outstanding people could be hired for half of this $3.27 million pay package.

I know the argument that other top executives in the utility industry are making more, and sometimes much more. However, just because someone else is making a ridiculous or unjustified salary does not mean that a public service agency such as TVA should follow suit.

East Tennessee is one of the most popular places to live in this entire country. TVA does not need to pay excessive salaries or bonuses to attract well-qualified people to fill its top-level positions.

I assume that the Board will not rescind this latest pay raise and will continue giving out huge bonuses, despite tremendous public opposition.

But I hope, as the very least, you will consider delaying this pay raise and any bonuses until this nation comes out of recession or until TVA rescinds its recent rate increase.


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