Parish police jurors decide to take raises

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 13, 2001

VIDALIA, La. – The money is there, the state has said they can have it, and other obligations to employees and constituents are being taken care of – those are the reasons Concordia Parish police jurors have given for accepting raises of $344 starting this month.

In January 2000, jurors voted to increase their maximum salaries to $1,200 a month but did not take that extra money in 2000 because the jury’s budget was too tight. And most police jurors said in early December they had still not decided whether to accept in 2001 the full $1,200 that Louisiana Legislature has set as the monthly maximum for police jurors’ salaries. At the time, jurors made $856 – except for jury President Charlie Blaney, who made $956.

But as of the jury’s last meeting, which was held on Monday, all jurors had signed up to receive the full $1,200 a month this year, jury Secretary-Treasurer Robbie Shirley confirmed.

Email newsletter signup

&uot;The state has already said we can take it,&uot; Juror Gene Allen said Friday. During discussion in late 2000 regarding the jury’s 2001 budget, Allen repeatedly said he wanted to receive the full $1,200.

Juror Willie Dunbar also pointed out that the state had raised jurors’ maximum salaries and that every other juror also decided to take the raise.

&uot;But I made it clear that I wasn’t going to accept the raise unless we gave (jury) employees raises, because they’re the ones that do the work,&uot; Dunbar said. &uot;And we’ve given them raises.&uot;

Juror Cathy Darden also said she was against taking raises unless jury employees were first given raises. And she pointed out that the jury has put more funding into other areas of the 2001 budget as well, including about $100,000 for road improvements and about $100,000 to purchase needed public works equipment.

&uot;I think we’ve been pretty fiscally responsible,&uot; Darden said. &uot;And if (a police juror) does the job right, it’s a hard job – not just attending two meetings per month. Plus, we could take an extra $200 a month for expenses, but we don’t.&uot;

Blaney said he spends much of his own money on his police jury job and also spends much time on jury projects, including helping oversee the parish’s recycling program. &uot;I have been practically full-time since I was elected,&uot; Blaney said.

Giving all nine jurors $1,200 a month, the most allowed by state law, will cost about $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.

Vice President Melvin Ferrington and jurors Rodney Smith, Tommy &uot;Red&uot; Tiffee, Carey Cook and Randy Temple could not be reached for comment.

Marvin Lyons, legislative coordinator for the Police Jury Association, has said jurors are not locked into their current salaries.

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.