For the next fiscal year, Port Allen Mayor Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter is proposing a $40,000 salary cut to the Chief Financial Officer, a $20,000 salary cut to the Chief Administrative Officer and $60,000 in funding for a new Community Development position.
Meanwhile, Slaughter proposes to fix her salary at $84,960.46 a year, the same salary as former mayors Roger Bergeron and Derek Lewis, with an additional $4,800 a year in car allowance.
The city council, at the June 12 city council meeting, approved a 2012-2013 budget amendment for the $4,800 car allowance.
According to CFO Audrey McCain, the mayor’s car allowance was a wish of council members last year but was “inadvertently omitted” from the 2012-2013 budget. McCain said after the meeting that Bergeron made $400 a month in car allowance while Slaughter currently makes $500 a month.
The $500 dispersed monthly for a period of 12 months would exceed the allotted $4,800.
Chief of Staff Ralph Slaughter said in response to McCain’s statement Tuesday that the mayor is making $400 a month, “just like Mayor Bergeron.”
According to the proposed budget, McCain’s salary would be reduced from $73,034 to $33,034 annually, making her lower-paid than any of the administrative coordinators, police officers or firefighters of the city and lower-paid than a utility operator for the water and gas department.
Claire Sarradet, the CFO before her, made $83,912.66, according to the mayor’s budget message accompanying the proposed budget.
Likewise, CAO Adrian Genre’s salary would drop from $64,867.14 to $44,867.14 annually. The CAO before him, Barry Brewer, made $85,590.96, according to the budget message.
Both Sarradet and Brewer worked for the city for more than 30 years.
Both Genre and McCain were hired under previous administration, and McCain and Slaughter have been in a court battle since February.
Public Works Director Terry Vincent would remain the highest paid employee second only to the mayor. Slaughter proposes cutting Vincent’s salary a mere $80, from $80,886 to $80,806 annually.
Councilwoman Ray Helen Lawrence would make $13,200 as Mayor Pro-Tem, approximately $300 more than Councilman R.J. Loupe made as Mayor Pro-Tem in 2012.
Slaughter also proposes a $60,000 Community Development position, “to begin working on our downtown and Riverfront Development projects,” and other positions “such as street improvements personnel.”
At a previous council meeting, City Attorney Victor Woods advised Slaughter against a Community Development position, due to budgetary concerns.
The mayor’s budget also informs council members that video poker revenues “have fallen almost 82 percent,” revenues which she says have been used in the past to fund the nearly $2.8 million still owed for bonds on the current city hall.
She says those gaming revenues are “projected to be insufficient to service the 2013-2014 debt requirements” and proposes transferring money from the general fund to support the bond payments.
The mayor also proposes $622,000 from the Low Income Housing Fund “to provide rental assistance for 138 low-income families who qualify” and up to 5 percent pay raises for city employees making less than $40,000 a year. “Employees over $40,000 will be evaluated on an individual merit basis,” she says.
McCain worries, however, that Slaughter’s budget was not properly presented at the June 12 city council meeting when Slaughter distributed copies of the budget to council members but no vote of the council was taken to formally introduce the ordinance for the proposed budget.
According to the budget message attached to the budget and dated June 12, Slaughter asks council members: “At this time it is requested that you introduce an ordinance to begin the budget approval process.” But McCain confirms that action was not taken at the June 12 city council meeting.
According to the Louisiana Local Government Budget Act, a proposed budget should be accompanied by a “budget adoption instrument.” For a municipality such as Port Allen, that budget adoption instrument is “an appropriation ordinance, adoption resolution, or other legal instrument necessary to adopt and implement the budget document.” According to state law, the mayor would also need that ordinance to fix the salaries she is proposing.
The proposed budget is currently available for inspection at Port Allen City Hall and a public hearing is scheduled for June 26 at 5:30 p.m.
The current fiscal year ends June 30 at midnight. If a budget is not adopted by then, 50 percent of last year’s budget would roll-over, according to the Louisiana Local Government Budget Act.
McCain said if she budgeted correctly, the city could operate at its present capacity for six months.
The budget act also allows funds to be dispersed in the case of emergencies, such as “an unforeseen event bringing with it destruction or injury of life or property or the imminent threat of such destruction or injury.”
At the June 12 city council meeting, the council also adopted a 3-1-1 resolution to deny funding for the mayor’s legal expenses, which the resolution states were “not specifically authorized and approved by the city council.”
According to La. Attorney General’s opinion 09-0132, the mayor cannot “unilaterally hire and pay an attorney to defend him at the cost of the municipality without the concurrence of the board of alderman.” However, if money has already been budgeted for legal services, “then the mayor has the authority to authorize expenditures from those budgeted funds.”
Councilmen Hugh Riviere, R.J. Loupe and Garry Hubble voted in favor of the resolution. Councilman Brandon Brown voted in opposition and Councilwoman Ray Helen Lawrence abstained.
Riviere stated his concern at the meeting of the mayor depleting funds needed for other cases ongoing with the city.
No word yet on Slaughter’s total legal expenses thus far and whether Slaughter will honor the council’s resolution, either retroactively or in the future.