Pointe Coupee to change umpire payment policy

The Pointe Coupee Parish Police Jury unanimously decided Tuesday night it would adopt a resolution establishing a new policy on how umpires, referees, score keepers and security workers are paid by the parish’s Recreation Department.

The jury’s action came after Juror Albert Dukes told the Police Jury’s Personnel Committee on Sept. 5 that the parish’s longtime practice of paying umpires with cash for working games at parish facilities without signed documentation of receipt could possibly be illegal.

“There are no 1099s or W2s; something is terribly wrong with this,” Dukes said Tuesday night. “Why was it happening? Everyone should see a problem with this.”

Parish officials said umpires have traditionally been paid in cash after parish Treasurer Becky Mayeaux was presented with an invoice itemizing fees and costs for game officials from the director or assistant director of parks and recreation.

Mayeaux then issued checks to the recreation department heads to cash and disburse to the umpires.

Parish Administrator Jim Bello said the longtime practice ceased Aug. 22 after Dukes first started questioning the practice.

“This practice has never been approved by the jury,” Dukes said.

Dukes had intended to ask the Police Jury behind closed doors Tuesday night to consider asking the District Attorney’s Office to investigate the matter.

But a trio of lawyers representing Mayeaux and parks and recreation officials challenged the Police Jury to talk about the matter in an open forum, claiming Dukes accused the three employees of stealing parish money in a local television news report.

“All you want to do is cause trouble,” New Roads attorney C. Jerome D’Aquila told Dukes on Tuesday. “You let a television news camera into the building and charge into Mrs. Mayeaux’s office accusing her of stealing. Has an umpire came to y’all and said they didn’t get paid for umpiring a game? No.”

D’Aquila added, “There’s no doubt that it’s not a good policy, but you need to do the oversight.”

Jury President Melanie Bueche added, “We’re rural; we trust each other. But when you’re dealing with the public’s money, we shouldn’t do that.”