Voters to decide on council pay raises

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 31, 2011



LAPLACE – The St. John the Baptist Parish Council on Tuesday approved a measure asking parish voters to approve a charter change that could raise pay for its members by linking it to a state-approved method of approving pay raises for parish governing bodies using the police jury form of government.

Councilman Haston Lewis spearheaded the measure, saying he wants to make it politically possible for council members, who earn $8,230 per year, to get raises. He said no council member in St. John has had a raise in 20 years.

The proposal, which would appear on the April 21 election ballot, would adopt a state law that sets a procedure for police jurors, who govern the parishes where that system is in effect, as the method by which St. John Council members could increase the salaries of future council members. The measure would go into effect after the newly elected council’s term.

According to that state law, known as Louisiana Revised Statute 33:1233, a three-fourths vote of a police jury can approve a raise in pay to up to $1,600 per month, or $19,200 per year. The chairman can get an additional $400 per month more under the law.

The change would continue to allow the parish council to periodically review the compensation paid to council members and would allow a two-thirds majority to vote in favor of a raise, but that vote must come at the end of their term, and the increase cannot be more than the consumer price index.

Parish President Natalie Robottom said her administration did not oppose the isolated charter change, but asked the council to delay action on the measure until a comprehensive review of the parish’s home rule charter could be performed. She said a charter review board was one of the recommendations of her Presidential Advisory Committee, formed after she took office in 2010.

“There are some deficiencies that need to be examined and amended,” Robottom said.

“This issue was one of them. I’m not trying to delay this from happening, our review would happen right away,” she added.

Council members, however, wanted to continue moving forward with the pay raise plan and approved the ordinance Tuesday.