Council considers ballot measure to increase president’s salaryMar 15th, 2010 | By Frank McCormack | Category: News
St. Bernard Parish residents could soon have the opportunity to give the parish president a raise, if the parish council approves a recommendation from the home rule charter committee.
Charlie Ponstein, former parish president and a member of the charter committee, spoke to the council during its March 10 Executive/Finance Committee meeting and explained his committee’s recommendation.
“As a member of the home rule charter committee, I agree,” Ponstein said of the recommendation. “I think the Parish President has more responsibility than any other official and should make more money.”
According to the parish charter, the president’s base pay is $45,000. However, by council ordinance, the parish president’s salary now stands at about $70,000, Ponstein said.
The charter committee is recommending to change that the president’s pay to be the average of the salaries of the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff, judges in the 34th Judicial District, the St. Bernard Parish Assessor, the St. Bernard Parish Clerk of Court and the parish’s district attorney. That formula would put the president’s pay well above $100,000 per year.
The council was due to vote on the recommendation at its upcoming March 16 meeting. However, during the March 10 Executive/Finance Committee meeting, several council members disagreed over how exactly to determine the president’s pay.
Council Chair Wayne Landry suggested, instead of an average of various government officials’ salaries, the president’s pay should be no less than $150,000 or 10 percent more than the salary of the highest paid parish employee.
“All I’m saying is, there should be a minimum dollar amount,” Landry said.
Councilman Mike Ginart, though, didn’t think a static dollar amount would sit well with voters.
“I don’t think that’ll ever pass,” he said regarding a specific dollar amount.
Ginart added, “I think a raise is well deserved and needs to happen.”
All council members, though, seemed to agreed the president’s pay should be commensurate with the responsibilities of the job. The council put off taking final action on the recommendation. Council members opted to refer that measure, along with several other charter change proposals, back to the charter committee for further consideration.
In order to place the items on an Oct. 2 special election ballot, final action must be taken by June, Clerk of Council Roxanne Adams told the council.
Parish President Craig Taffaro treaded lightly on the topic.
“Everyone has agreed there should be a salary change for the parish president,” he said. “A vote of the public allows that to be changed immediately.”
If passed, the recommendation would take effect January 2012.