The Pulaski Electric System Board of Directors has entered into negotiations with its choice for CEO — Interim CEO Scott Newton.
After the board’s last meeting, Board Attorney Andy Hoover said he was asked to get the salary expectations from the two finalists for the CEO position (Newton and Sarah Herman).
Chairman Marcus Houston said with one asking $125,000 and the other $150,000 and that “they both come with the same territory in that neither one of them have this type of experience,” he suggested $136,000.
“With Newton being able to ‘grasp’ the grants for the expansion of internet that is the thing that would make me say, ‘Beyond a shadow of a doubt, he is your candidate,’” board member Neal Bass said.
Bass said of Newton not having a background with electrical experience that he still “has the ability to connect all the dots” and “makes all the parts come together.”
“Which is what you want in a CEO,” board member Pat Ford said. “Scott understands business.”
They both acknowledged that the other skills could be “plugged in.”
“It’s not what it costs to hire him,” Bass said. “It’s the end product you get after you’ve got him.”
“There’s not a doubt in my mind that he won’t create $25,000 more worth of value,” he said, adding that “Scott’s got his support.”
Power Board member J.B. Smith said he agreed.
“If we have to take a vote right now, my vote would go toward Scott,” Smith said.
Ford said he had “heartburn” over the salary because of the city administrator not making that much. He also said he wanted everyone to be aware that with Newton they may be back in the same spot in three years’ time.
“Now, give somebody who understands the business and can pay dividends for three years, I’d probably take that,” Ford said. “I’d probably take it for three years and do this all over again in three years.”
“The internet thing pushes it for me as much as anything else,” Bass added.
Hoover said Newton would prefer having a contract as well. He discussed the “good and bad” of having a contract.
“We’ve had CEOs who have had a contract, we’ve had CEOs who didn’t have a contract,” Hoover said.
The board discussed what the terms of a contract might include with either of the candidates (i.e. a termination clause for a 60-day notice and length of term).
Ford said the most he would want to offer was $135,000 and others agreed. The board then discussed what a 5 percent and 6 percent increase each year would look like and acknowledged when Newton leaves what the next CEO might expect to make after him.
“I’m good with it,” Smith added. “If we want to keep and retain good people, you have to pay them.”
Smith said that amount is still below the $150,000-$175,000 the TVA has recommended for someone in the position.
The board decided to hire Scott Newton as CEO dependent upon negotiations with the salary, terms and background check.