Mayors call for KTSC CEO Gloria Ray to resign

Mayors call for Knoxville Tourism & Sports Corp. CEO Gloria Ray to resign

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Knoxville Tourism & Sports President and CEO Gloria Ray Knoxville Tourism & Sports President and CEO Gloria Ray

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero called Thursday for Knoxville Tourism & Sports CEO Gloria Ray to resign. The move follows the release of documents showing a more than $30,000 increase in her base pay in five years.

Mayor Burchett said he also wants the KTSC board leadership and executive committee to resign.

"It is now obvious that a serious change is needed in the leadership of the Knoxville Tourism and Sports Corporation. The KTSC is an organization that receives millions each year in Knox County tax dollars, and I have lost confidence in the organization's leaders. Worse, they have lost the public's trust," Burchett said in a statement released to the media.

Burchett also said he has asked the state comptroller to audit all of KTSC's financial dealings.

"With the amount of taxpayer dollars KTSC receives, and in light of recent revelations, this is the appropriate action," Burchett added.

Documents show Ray's bonuses are given based on benchmarks including economic impact, media coverage and hotel/motel tax collections, along with a performance bonus. Those bonuses were capped up to a percentage of her base salary.

Like Burchett, Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero says there should be changes at the top.

"In order to restore confidence in this critically important organization and its mission, I recommend Gloria Ray resign, and I'm asking that the executive committee who had oversight of Ms. Ray's commission, also resign," Rogero said.

The city's contract with KTSC expires in June.

"I would like to see how we approach tourism in general and then who does it? What do we expect for any contract we might have?" said Rogero.

The KTSC board's attorney, Ward Phillips, said there are some discrepancies in how Ray's salary and pay were administered.

"We've also determined that while a number of aspects of Ms. Ray's compensation were properly authorized, a number may not have been," Phillips said. "There is a dispute among the parties as to whether certain of the agreements were properly authorized under the bylaws and the Tennessee law."

"In light of these disagreements about some of the aspects of Ms. Ray's compensation," Phillips added, "there is the potential for  legal dispute."

"There are many good people on the KTSC Board who have been kept in the dark, and they need to be given the chance to do their job," Burchett said.

Mayor Burchett appointed Knox County Commission Chairman Mike Hammond and Susan Rothchild, owner of Rothchild's Catering, to the KTSC board to fill two vacant seats.

"He'll answer to the tax payers, because he's on the ballot and I think he understands. Susan Rothchild, she is a well known business lady in the community, she's a caterer, she understands the tourism industry, that's her bread and butter," Burchett said.

KTSC has hired Knoxville public relations firm Moxley Carmichael to represent it on an hourly contract. Cynthia Moxley told 6 News the firm was hired because extra work created by the salary controversy.

"I am disappointed that they chose to hire PR people," Mayor Burchett said.

However, Mayor Rogero said, "I don't have a problem with them asking somebody to come and help. My expectation is that the board wants the information, wants to be transparent and wants information to get out to the public."

Burchett says the county is looking to see if there was a violation of the contract between Knox County and KTSC.

If KTSC is found in violation, the county could sign a contract with a different vendor, which would cut off any tax payer money going toward Ray's salary.

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