The Port Allen City Council voted July 10 not to introduce an ordinance that would appropriate more money for Mayor Demetric Slaughter’s nearly $85,000 a year salary.
According to court proceedings, budgeted funds for a $65,000 a year salary ran out May 24, prior to the June 30 end of the fiscal year because Slaughter was drawing salary at the higher rate, the same rate as her predecessor.
State Judge Alvin Batiste ruled partially in the mayor’s favor July 2, saying Slaughter could keep her nearly $85,000 a year salary because the council did not properly set the new, lower salary in June 2012 via a line item in the budget.
However, Batiste ruled that the mayor could not unilaterally draw more salary than budgeted without a budget amendment. He issued a preliminary injunction against the mayor for her salary until the council appropriates more money or she obtains a court order.
Slaughter’s $400 a month car allowance, over and above salary, was already approved by the city council.
Slaughter said she will ask the city council to reconsider the salary budget amendment “as directed by the Court.” She said she has faith they will comply with the judge’s ruling.
“I do not believe I need to file a Court order,” Slaughter said, “because I believe the Council will comply with the Court's ruling.”
Councilman R.J. Loupe said he opposed the introduction of the ordinance on July 10 because it should have been introduced in committee at the previous meeting, on July 3.
July 3 was the day after the ruling and neither the mayor nor the council spoke in public forum about the ruling.
“We had time to bring it up and we didn’t,” Loupe said, specifically referring to the budget amendment for the mayor’s salary.
At a previous city council meeting, Loupe said he would have supported Slaughter’s “raise” 100 percent if she had simply asked for a budget amendment.
The Louisiana Legislative Auditor issued a report June 19 which also said that the mayor should have asked for a budget amendment.
Loupe said over the phone Monday, July 15, he does not want to speculate on how he will vote if the council revisits the budget amendment at the next committee meeting, on August 7. He said he is still in talks with his attorney, J. Arthur Smith, on his best course of action.
Councilman Hugh Riviere said he opposed the introduction of the ordinance July 10 because, “The mayor’s salary needs to be set by a separate stand-alone ordinance. That’s not what this (budget amendment) does.”
Slaughter said she will also propose a separate ordinance in August to fix her salary and others, because she said, “That has never been done for any of the Port Allen municipal officers.”
The city council typically fixes salaries via line items in the budget, but Batiste ruled this insufficient for the June 2012 lowering of the mayor’s salary.