PORT ALLEN — The Port Allen City Council appears poised to let Mayor Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter retain her controversial $84,960 annual salary should the majority adopt an ordinance introduced Wednesday night by Councilman Garry Hubble setting the salaries of the city’s elected officials.
“I think we need to go ahead and set up a separate ordinance setting salaries for all elected officials in the city, from this point on, so there won’t be a question to what they are,” Hubble said Wednesday night during the council’s committee meetings.
The City Council will vote on the proposed ordinance at its regular meeting next week.
The mayor’s salary has been a hot-button issue since Slaughter took office Jan. 1 and issued a directive to the city’s administrative coordinator that she be paid $84,960 a year despite the fact that the salary for the position had been reduced to $65,000 a year when the City Council approved its 2012-13 fiscal year budget.
Hubble’s action Wednesday night comes a month after District Judge Alvin Batiste ruled the mayor’s salary must be fixed through a standalone ordinance and not the way the City Council had historically done it by merely approving its annual budget.
Batiste’s ruling was the result of a lawsuit three council members filed against Slaughter on June 25 that asserted the mayor was abusing her executive powers since taking office in January.
Hubble said Wednesday night his proposed ordinance sets the mayor’s pay “in the $84,000 range.”
“That’s what I put in there,” he said. “Whether my fellow councilmen will approve that remains to be seen.”
“This will accomplish exactly what the judge told us,” Councilman Hugh “Hootie” Riviere added.
However, Riviere gave no indication at Wednesday night’s meeting what amount he would vote in favor of.
“I hope after tonight it’s a done deal,” Slaughter told reporters after the meeting. “That amount has been given to me since the beginning. There just always seemed to be issues with the ordinance being set.”
Hubble and Riviere criticized the mayor Wednesday night for not following proper hiring protocol in her attempt to notify the council about her recent appointment of two utility clerks.
Riviere said a city ordinance clearly states the mayor is supposed to submit the candidates’ names and compensation rates to the City Council before filling such positions.
“That was completely ignored in this whole process,” Riviere told the mayor during Wednesday’s meeting. “The council was left out. We don’t know if any background checks or drug screens have been done.”
Slaughter asserted proper protocol had been followed and said she did inform each council member, via the telephone, about the emergency need to fill the positions after they had been abruptly vacated by former employees.
“There was friction on that first floor between those ladies since I stepped into office,” Slaughter said. “At that point, I had to get someone in here.”
Ralph Slaughter, the mayor’s brother-in-law and chief of staff, chimed in Wednesday night’s discussion by asserting the mayor did “what anyone would have done.”
“The Lawrason Act authorizes the mayor to make those hires,” he said. “(And) the ordinance actually says she has to consult the council, not get your approval.”