Council rejects new move to hike Port Allen mayor’s pay

A City Council majority shot down a new move Wednesday night to fix Mayor Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter’s salary at $84,960 annually, asserting the council must follow a judge’s ruling and parliamentary procedures in considering the issue.

The proposed ordinance offered by Councilwoman Ray Helen Lawrence sought to fix the mayor’s salary at $84,960 by amending the city’s 2012-13 fiscal year budget. That budget had cut the mayor’s pay to $65,000 a year when the council approved the spending plan in June 2012.

Slaughter stirred up controversy over her salary immediately after taking office on Jan. 1 when she issued a directive to the city’s administrative coordinator requesting the mayor’s pay rate to be set at $84,960 a year.

Wednesday’s proposed pay-raise ordinance failed by a 3-2 council vote, with Hugh “Hootie” Riviere, R.J. Loupe and Garry Hubble voting against the measure, while Lawrence and Councilman Brandon Brown voted in favor of amending the fiscal year budget.

The mayor refused to answer any questions about the issue after Wednesday night’s meeting.

Lawrence’s attempt to address the mayor’s pay came a week after a state district judge ruled that the mayor’s annual salary must be properly fixed through a stand-alone ordinance and not merely by a council vote on an annual budget.

Judge Alvin Batiste’s July 2 ruling came in response to a lawsuit Riviere, Loupe and Hubble filed in the 18th Judicial District Court on June 25. It claimed that Slaughter was abusing her executive powers as mayor and making illegal financial transactions with taxpayer’s money.

Riviere said during Wednesday night’s meeting he wouldn’t support Lawrence’s move to increase Slaughter’s wages because it was being made in defiance of Batiste’s ruling.

“It’s not the salary amount; the judge specifically said the salary was not set properly,” Riviere said. “He couldn’t have been more clear on that. The mayor’s salary needs to be set by a separate, standalone ordinance. If we amend the budget, we’re just defying the judge’s order … and I’m not willing to do that.”

Loupe said Lawrence’s ordinance to raise Slaughter’s pay would have to be properly introduced during council committee meetings in August before he would entertain a vote on the matter.

“I’m not saying I’m for or against it,” Loupe said. “The procedure I’ve followed for the last thirty-something years is you put it before the committee (and) then you bring it up and vote on it.”

Slaughter told Loupe that Lawrence had wanted to submit the proposed ordinance when the council held its committee meetings July 3, “and you said it wasn’t on the agenda.”

Loupe retorted, “The judge said we did it wrong. “We need to do it right. Let’s introduce it at the next meeting and we’ll go from there.”

Other issues before the council included:

FIRE DISTRICT: The council unanimously approved a resolution supporting the West Baton Rouge Parish Council’s effort to merge the parish’s six fire subdistricts into one parishwide district. The Parish Council on June 27 approved a similar resolution.

The towns of Addis and Brusly must follow suit before the Parish Council can go forward with forming the new district, Port Allen Fire Chief Rick Boudreaux said.

Parish officials hope to have the new parishwide district up and running by July 1.