St. John the Baptist Parish President’s salary sees $17,000 annual increase in council meeting

Published 11:06 am Thursday, November 2, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Fresh off of an election in which she was unopposed after her only challenger was disqualified, St. John the Baptist Parish President Jaclyn Hotard is getting an annual increase of $17,000 in her salary.

Councilman Kurt Becnel proposed the hike during the parish council meeting this past Tuesday night in Laplace. The raise will boost Hotard’s salary to approximately $164,000.

“This position has remained at the same salary for 10 years,” Becnel said.

He said when the previous raise was approved, the salary was one of the highest in the region for mayors or parish presidents. But with no increase in the past decade, the salary is now one of the lowest for a similar position.

Becnel said during the past four years parish employees have been receiving 3% raises, so he multiplied that by four to account for the 12% increase to the president’s salary.

“Hopefully, with this increase, we can attract qualified candidates into the future,” he said. “This is not just for this president [Hotard] but for future parish presidents.”

Hotard’s intended opponent, Charles Julian, was disqualified by the 40th Judicial District Court in August.

The two had squared off in the 2019 election that sent Hotard, previously a longtime council member, into her first term when she gained 68% of the votes cast.

Council members also paved the way for a renewable bio gas and energy plant to be built in Reserve. The plant when finished will employ 25 people.

Also approved was an additional $254,000 for the Airline and Main Complete Streets Project. Of that amount, $212,000 is dedicated to adjusting quantities of materials actually installed and for safety improvements along the railroad track crossing.

Another $41,489 was approved for raising five fire hydrants that are lower than the sidewalks and multi-use paths and drainage modifications on Airline Highway.

“I am going to vote for this but I just can’t understand something this simple [installing fire hydrants at street level], having to have it done,” Councilman Warren Torres said. “Why are the hydrants so low?”

Chief Administrative Officer Peter Montz explained that during the design of the project, the elevation of the sidewalk was raised but the level of the fire hydrants “was not considered.”

“That is all I need to know,” Torres shot back.

Note: This article was attributed to Lori Lyons in the Nov. 1 print edition of L’OBSERVATEUR. The correct author of this article is council reporter Richard Meek as reflected on this page.