Residents and jurors weigh in on possibility of police jury pay raises

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 2, 2000

VIDALIA, La. – Most Concordia Parish police jurors interviewed this week said they are not yet sure whether they will favor receiving their full salaries next year — and public opinion seems to be mixed on the subject.

Giving all nine jurors $1,200 a month, the most allowed by state law, would cost almost $36,000 more a year out of the jury’s general fund, which is made up of taxes, license and permit fees and federal and state funds.

In January, five out of nine jurors voted to raise the maximum salary they could receive from $856 — their current salary, which is around the state average — to $1,200. Still, the jury also voted to keep its salaries at $856 until the jury got enough money to fund raises. Jury President Charlie Blaney receives $956.

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But Juror Gene Allen said Monday that as part of next year’s budget, which starts Jan. 1, he would like to receive the full $1,200. He pointed out that revenues have risen this year and that &uot;all the other (parish officials) have gotten raises.&uot;

Other jurors are more noncommittal, however. &uot;I’m in favor of a small raise because the jury as a whole is behind … the cost of living,&uot; Blaney said. &uot;But I can’t speak for the rest of the jurors.&uot;

Juror Willie Dunbar said would rather wait and see the proposed budget the jury’s Finance Committee will present at December’s meeting before he makes up his mind on the issue.

&uot;If the situation is such that we’re able to get it, fine, but our (police jury) employees really need it more than I&160;do,&uot; he said.

Juror Cathy Darden agreed, saying that depending on how much money is available, she would &uot;like to see the police jury employees get a raise before we do.&uot;

&uot;I’m not going to comment right now,&uot;&160;said jury Vice President Melvin Ferrington. &uot;I’ll wait until the Finance Committee meets and see what figures they come up with.&uot;

Juror Tommy &uot;Red&uot;&160;Tiffee pointed out that he did not attend Monday’s meeting. &uot;I’ve got to wait and talk with the other jurors before I&160;comment on that,&uot;&160;he said.

Jurors Carey Cook, Rodney Smith and Randy Temple could not be reached for comment Thursday and Friday.

Meanwhile, public opinion seems to be divided on the issue.

&uot;If the money is there, I&160;think they should get it,&uot; said George Jolla of Ferriday. &uot;They seem to be doing their jobs.&uot;

&uot;Overall, I&160;think (jurors) are doing a better job than they used to,&uot; said Helen Taylor of Ferriday, pointing out that public works maintenance, such as road paving, seems to be improving in her area.

&uot;I don’t favor it. They make more than most governmental (bodies). And used to, in the old days, travel (expenses)&160;may have been all they got,&uot; said Phyllis Duncan of Vidalia. She believes roads and drainage are in worse shape now than in the past.

Audrey Franklin of Vidalia said that jurors’ salaries should be based on the amount of revenue the jury receives. But she also believes that other professions deserve raises just as much, if not more.

&uot;For example, it appears that everyone can get a raise except teachers,&uot; Franklin said. &uot;I&160;have family in the school system, and I&160;see what teachers make.&uot;

But Marvin Lyons, legislative coordinator for the Police Jury Association, said jurors would not be locked in. In fact, he said they could decide to pass an ordinance at any time to set their salaries, provided another public hearing was held and was advertised twice.

And at the time the salaries were set, individual jurors could decide to get the maximum salary, less than that, or no salary at all.

&uot;The only stipulation is that they could not come back and reduce their salaries at any time during their four-year term,&uot;&160;Lyons said.