Ferriday aldermen to discuss pay raises tonight

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 14, 2009

FERRIDAY — Pay raises will be a topic of discussion tonight for the third time in less than a year at the Ferriday Board of Aldermen’s meeting.

The motion to introduce the pay raise ordinance by Alderman Elijah “Steppers” Banks was passed in March by all of the aldermen except Somer Lance.

The aldermen are required by law to have a public hearing before they can vote on the matter.

Email newsletter signup

If passed, the raise will increase aldermen pay by $400 a month. They are currently compensated at a rate of $200 a month.

Banks said he came to the $600 a month figure after checking other local boards and finding out what they were compensated.

“I thought it would be a fair number,” he said.

But his goal in the long run is to raise the caliber of the board, Banks said.

“I wanted to make it attractive to other educated people who are running for office,” he said. “We need knowledgeable people to run as aldermen — it’s just that simple.”

The pay increase is worth the work the aldermen put into the job, Banks said.

“The job of the aldermen is to take care of the Town of Ferriday, everything from the streets, ditches and living quarters,” he said. “The business of the aldermen is to go out there and make things happen.”

And taking care of the people’s business is a lot of work, Banks said.

“Our job is an everyday job,” he said.

Mayor Glen McGlothin said it is within the board’s rights to increase its pay, but he doesn’t believe its should.

“I don’t know anybody who would turn down a pay raise, but with the economy the way it is right now I don’t think it is the right time for it,” he said.

Then there’s another problem — the pay raise isn’t budgeted, McGlothin said.

The first time the topic was broached was in June 2008, when Alderman Johnny Brown proposed a $500 a month pay raise.

The proposal was brought up during a meeting and briefly debated, but an ordinance to change the aldermen’s pay was never formally submitted.

That ordinance would have had to be in effect by July 1.

The second time the issue went before the board was in December, when Banks tried to introduce an ordinance identical to the one up for discussion today.

While Banks and Brown voted to introduce the ordinance, the rest of the board balked at the idea.

That pay increase would have taken effect in January.

The board will also discuss paying legal fees for the town’s former mayor, the late Sammy Davis Jr.

Davis was convicted of malfeasance in office, but that conviction was later overturned. Louisiana law allows for the compensation of legal fees of an elected official who proves themselves innocent of charges related to their conduct in office.

The town has sought an opinion from the attorney general’s office, but Banks requested a second opinion from the office and has since received it. The town has not received their answer yet.

The opinion Banks received states that the town can pay Davis’ bills, but McGlothin has previously said that the Banks opinion does not go into as much detail as the one the town requested.

There are two problems with paying the bill right now, McGlothin said.

The first is that the town hasn’t received any kind of invoice for it, and the second is that it doesn’t have the money.

“I haven’t paid this for the same reason other past mayors haven’t paid it,” McGlothin said. “(The board) thinks I am against paying it, but that’s not the case. Where the money is going to come from is a mystery to me.”