MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A new president and chief executive officer for Memphis Light, Gas and Water has been named and approved as the debate over MLGW rate increases continues.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland selected Jarl Young to lead the city utility company. Less than 24 hours later, City Council approved Young's selection.
City leaders cited his his 35 years of experience in customer service as a main reason for hiring him to lead MLGW.
Young is currently the general manager of customer service and marketing for Gulf Power in Pensacola, Florida.
Young will begin his tenure as CEO in mid-March. He will replace former MLGW President Jerry Collins, who became CEO in 2007 and will officially retire at the end of the month.
Young will also make nearly 50 percent more than Collins made. The new MLGW CEO will make an annual salary of $320,000--Collins made $215,000.
That salary would make Young the highest paid city employee, above Memphis Police Department Director Mike Rallings and Mayor Jim Strickland.
City officials said similar positions in other cities make between $350,000-450,000. That's why they had to increase the salary from its previous value.
That salary increase comes at a time when MLGW is asking City Council to allow it to raise prices on its customers. While approving Young, City Council agreed to reconsider the gas and electric rate increases that they voted down just two weeks ago.
Young said he would like to assess rates and other factors at the utility company before says anything about the proposed rate increases.
"It's a complicated issue. I get it; I will do my best to work with our great team at MLGW. I know they've done a good job pulling together the resources and the need for the increase, but I just want to put my own eyes on it," Young said.
MLGW's budget was also put on hold during this time of transition.