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Council OKs hefty pay raise

By Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / February 9, 1998

CONVENT – A hefty pay raise for St. James Parish Council members wasapproved Wednesday in a 6-1 vote, in the face of public opposition.

The raise was the first for Parish Council members in 15 years,Councilman Elwyn Bocz commented. Councilman Timmy Roussel pointedout employee pay raises are commonly 3 to 5 percent each year, and hesuggested a gradual step-increase over a period of years.Parish attorney Bruce Mohon pointed out such step-increases are not”appropriate or legal” under the parish’s home rule charter.

The raise is from $856 to $1,100 per month for council members and $963to $1,200 per month for the council chairman. Roussel calculated it as a28.5 percent increase.

“It’s entirely too much percentage at one time,” declared WilsonMarlbrough.

“This is definitely wrong,” J.B. Roussel added from the audience, “to have this kind of money for a part-time job!”The raise will not take effect until after the next Parish Council takesoffice in January 2000.

Roussel added, as a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, he andother volunteers put in nearly a full work-week on a voluntary basis.

“It’s time you do something for the parish. You’re getting elected to helpyour pockets,” he said.

The raise was approved with Roussel voting against it. Roussel was alsoelected the 1998 chairman by a unanimous vote.A special meeting was called for Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. to discuss the state’sEnterprise Zone program as it relates to American Iron Reduction’spractices of local hiring and also the MetroVision composting pilotproject scheduled to begin Feb. 19. MetroVision is promoting compostingacross a nine-parish area.

In other activity, representatives of the St. James Parish state legislativedelegation, including Rep. Roy Quezaire and Carol Abbott of Sen. LouisLambert’s office, presented a letter of commitment to the parishgovernment for $10,000 more funding toward the 2.5-mile water line loopproject from River Road to Louisiana Highway 3125 for industrial development. Total project funding is $95,000, Quezaire said.

Executive director Gary LaGrange and Commissioner Cart Davis presenteda brief report on Port of South Louisiana activity during 1997, includingcurrent plans to market the Wilton Plantation site to a steel mini-millwhich may produce 150-200 new local jobs.

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