Big raise awaits Hubbard

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 31, 2008

Council shows support for new salary of $123,318


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – A resolution granting the St. John parish president a roughly $40,000 raise received minimal opposition at a meeting of the St. John Council Finance Committee Tuesday.

The boost in pay, which would bring the president’s annual salary to $123,318, is a 50 percent increase from the present salary of $81,267. It garnered the support of seven of the nine Parish Council members.

Chief Administrative Officer Pat McTopy proposed the resolution, which ties the president’s salary to that of the sheriff, a figure that is set by the state. McTopy stated at the meeting that the responsibilities of the parish president match those of the sheriff, and that the position deserves equal compensation.

According to parish figures, as president, Bill Hubbard manages a $54.5 million budget, along with about 200 employees. Sheriff Wayne Jones, meanwhile, is responsible for 230 employees, a $15.6 million budget, and manages two jails.

McTopy said the salary had been set too low, and was long overdue for an increase. The St. John Parish Home Rule Charter originally set the president’s salary at $32,000 when it was first adopted, and only allows a salary adjustment every two years.

Parish officials have tried in the past to raise the president’s pay to match the sheriff. Former President Nickie Monica attempted to raise his salary just last year, but was unable to do so since the position had previously received a raise within the two year time period that the council is allowed to vote on it.

The raise comes just two weeks after Hubbard took his oath of office on January 14, something that did not sit well with some of the council members.

“A person in business has to prove themselves before getting a raise like this,” said Councilwoman Cheryl Millet. “You don’t get a 50 percent increase after only being in office two weeks.”

Millet had made a motion to table the resolution, but her motion was taken off the table when Councilman Charles Julien, who seconded the motion, withdrew his second to voice his disapproval.

“I think 50 percent is a major raise,” said Julien. “If we are going to give raises of this magnitude, we need to look out for the little people, the ones doing the work.”

When Millet questioned the amount of the raise, Hubbard stood up and simply advised her to vote no on the resolution.

Councilman Steve Lee, who has pushed for an increase for a number of years, said the resolution is the fairest way to determine the salary of the parish president.

“I think it is time we put our best foot forward, not just for the sitting president, but for the position of St. John the Baptist Parish president,” said Lee. “It elevates the salary to a level worthy of attracting good, educated, and qualified people for the office.”

As a result of Tuesday’s vote, the administration has submitted a budget amendment to appropriate funds to account for the increase. The ordinance will receive final approval at the February 12 council meeting.