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Jury talks raises for court reporters

VIDALIA — While no decisions were made, the Concordia Parish Police Jury discussed plans to give raises to three court reporters in the parish.

The new suggested raise would take $770 a month, or $385 apiece for two of the employees, out of the jury’s general fund and $120 a month from the jury’s criminal court fund for the other employees’ raise.

Another stipulation of the raise includes a 3-percent salary increase for each additional year the employees work.

President Melvin Ferrington said with funds being tight for the jury, he wished the proposal would have come up when the jury prepared its budget in October.

The raise is required by the parish judges, and the jury is responsible for the salary.

“We are going to have to give them the raise because it is court ordered,” he said. “If we have to keep diving into this general fund, we are going to lose it fast.”

The jury and District Attorney Brad Burget are working on the proposal that has to be approved by the judges before it can be passed.

Burget said that while the law stipulates the money for the raise must come out of the general fund, he is going to ask the judge if part of the money can be taken out of the criminal court funds, in accordance with the proposal.

Burget said at the end of 2010, the criminal court fund had a surplus of approximately $30,000, and when a surplus exists in that fund, the jury is reimbursed half of the surplus.

“The fund is designed to offset and supplement in those areas, so I don’t mind asking them to use part of the money from the fund,” he said. “The last thing I want to see is the jury in financial trouble.”

Burget and Ferrington both said they needed more time to look at the issue and discuss all the options before making a decision on how to pay the salary increases.

In other news:

• The jury heard a proposal from International Consulting Group representative John Chumba on possibly using their services to apply for grants for housing and infrastructure needs in the parish.

Chumba said ICG, based out of Baton Rouge, puts a team of experts together to target the parish’s needs and then works on getting funding opportunities for those needs.

“We work with the engineers here,” he said. “We are very savvy on federal and state guidelines, which is important because they are all unique and different.”

Chumba said the group should cost the parish no money for their services, because they are paid on percentages of the grants received.

“We only get paid if you are awarded the grant,” he said.

Juror Joe Parker said the parish needs to seriously consider help from the company.

“We need to take a look at every avenue we can and not shut the door on someone trying to help,” he said.

• The jury voted to continue to use contracted company L-64 to spray the ditches and canals in the parish at a total cost of $25,200.

Ferrington said the jury can ask for new bids toward the end of the year to look for a new company to handle the spraying, if they choose to do so.

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