- Associated Press - Sunday, August 9, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - An Arkansas lawmaker is questioning the pay received by the executive director of the Arkansas Municipal League, who also receives state retirement benefits.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported (https://bit.ly/1KZlZkf ) Sunday that league director Don Zimmerman’s pay ranged from more than $267,000 to nearly $466,000 annually during the past 11 years.

Zimmerman, executive director of the league since 1974, retired Jan. 1, 2002, and draws undisclosed retirement benefits. He resumed working for the league on Feb. 1, 2002, and is paid what he called an administrative fee.

“I don’t draw a salary,” Zimmerman said. “I am a working retiree.”

State Sen. Bill Sample, R-Hot Springs, questions the amount Zimmerman is paid, on top of the state retirement benefits.



“If he’s semiretired, why would he draw a check like that?” Sample asked.

Two months ago, Sample received the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee’s approval for a special audit of the league after he raised concerns about Zimmerman’s pay.

Zimmerman, who said he has been paid $241,231 this year, said he stopped accepting pay June 29 after Sample questioned it and immediately after the league’s convention in Little Rock. Zimmerman said he won’t take any pay until the league’s board and state auditors report back, which is expected later this year.

Zimmerman said the league is not a state agency and receives no funds from the state or federal governments.

“We are an agency of the municipalities and owned by the municipalities,” he said.

Zimmerman said his pay has been tied to the size of the league’s reserve fund for the past 30 years, and is currently authorized a salary of 0.85 percent of the reserve fund.

Several former league leaders defended Zimmerman in a letter to the newspaper.

“Given the considerable responsibility weighing on his shoulders, his tenure and track record of forty-plus years, we each fully support the performance-based pay structure to compensate Don,” said Conway Mayor Tab Townsell, Lake Village Mayor JoAnne Bush, Marion Mayor Frank Fogleman, Paragould Mayor Mike Gaskill, Pea Ridge Mayor Jackie Crabtree, St. Charles Mayor Robert Patrick and North Little Rock Alderman Murray Witcher.

They credited the league with saving local governments large sums of money through the league’s municipal health benefit fund and its municipal vehicle program that allows cities to purchase liability coverage for $100 per vehicle per year.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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