Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson has withdrawn a request to have the city reimburse him for tuition and textbooks as he pursues a doctorate at the University of Tennessee.
The tuition reimbursement proposal was expected to be considered at tonight’s City Council meeting. That’s when Council members will also consider whether to give Watson a 1.5 percent pay raise and a two-year contract extension.
The tuition reimbursement proposal had generated opposition. One of the primary concerns appeared to be that other city employees were not eligible.
“Obviously, the publicity, outcry, objections, whether organized or not, is something that is not an acceptable option for some people in the community,” Watson said in an e-mail to City Council members Monday afternoon. “You, as a Council, nor I as city manager need to have this questioned. Rather than pursue this at this time, I would ask that it be withdrawn from the agenda for action at my request.”
Watson said the tuition reimbursement option was something that the City Manager Evaluation Committee had wanted to discuss with the entire City Council.
Now, he said, “We have too many other issues that need to be focused upon.”
Under the proposal, Watson would have had to earn at least a “B” average and continue working for the city for three years after he finished his classwork. If he had left before then, he would have had to repay the city.
Watson is studying political science, with a concentration in public administration.
The 1.5 percent pay raise that Council will consider tonight for Watson is the same increase given to other municipal employees. It would boost Watson’s salary to $136,656, effective July 8.
His employment contract would be extended to Aug. 8, 2016.
Tonight’s meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Oak Ridge Municipal Building Courtroom.