By KEVIN CHIRI
Slidell news bureau
SLIDELL – A recommendation to raise pay for a number of city employees is part of the 2018 fiscal year budget currently under review by City Council members.
If the raises go through it will also bring up the question of whether the mayor, police chief and City Council members will also accept a raise they are entitled to for the 2018 fiscal year that begins in July.
Slidell Mayor Freddy Drennan is proposing the use of $429,997 a year—money from sales tax bonds that are being paid off in 2017—to bring many city employees up in pay in an effort to get them close to what is considered the “regional average” for specific job descriptions.
The Slidell Civil Service Board was asked to seek information about “average pay” for the many job titles in the city employee staff. The report concluded that many positions are well below market average, while many are being paid comparably to market conditions.
With a 20-year sales tax bond being paid off this year, a bond the city spent $636,562 on for its 2017 fiscal year payment, it will free up approximately that much money each year, so long as city officials don’t seek a renewal of that bond.
For now, with Drennan in his final term in office, the mayor is proposing $429,997 of that money go to increase pay for many city employees.
“Not all city employees will get raises, but some of them will get raises that could be as much as $3,000 a year,” City Council Administrator Tommy Reeves said. “It all depends on where they were in the report and how far below the average they were for that particular job.”
Reeves said that the intent was to “close the gap by at least 25 percent” for many workers who were far below the regional average in pay.
If the raises are approved, then a portion of the law involving city employee pay raises also allows for similar raises of the same percent go to the mayor, chief of police and City Council members. That has been determined to be raises of 5.3 percent.
Those authorities have a right to decline the raises, as has happened in the past, but they will also have the right to approve their own raises.
Currently the mayor is earning $113,493 and could get a raise of $6,015; the chief of police is currently earning $102,251 and could get a raise of $5,419; and City Council members are currently earning $20,733 in what is considered part-time positions. They are each eligible for a raise of $1,100 a year.
The matter is scheduled to be discussed at a public hearing on April 25 as part of the budget review, but is expected to be postponed into the future when a vote of the 2018 budget is ready.