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|Police jurors decline to act on raises|
The Ouachita Parish Police Jury declined to increase salaries for police jurors following a brief debate on the issue Monday.
During the last legislative session, lawmakers agreed to allow an increase of maximum pay for police jurors from $1,200 a month to $1,600. The amended statute also allows for an additional payment of up to $400 per month for a police jury president.
Parish attorney Jay Mitchell said if the police jury wanted to increase jurors' salaries, it would have to be done through an ordinance, following a public hearing.
Police jury president Walt Caldwell said he was not opposed to voting for a raise in the future as long as it became effective in 2012, following the next police jury elections.
"I don't want to support a pay raise for police jurors at this point," Caldwell said. "We all knew what we would be doing when we took the job. But, I would be interested in a pay raise for police juries after the next election.
"I have certainly become very well acquainted with the workload we have here. It is quite a bit. But I don't want anyone to think I'm trying to line my own pocket. I may not be here when the seats roll over in 2012."
Caldwell suggested the police jury consider increasing the next police jury president's salary to the maximum allowed under law since the president has additional duties.
"As president of the police jury, you are requested to attend every social event of any significance," Caldwell explained. "And you are required to attend any event of any real political, social or economic significance. Considering the amount of time it takes to do that, the jury needs to reconsider the idea of a parish administrator or compensate the president at higher pay."
"However, I will not support raising my own pay at this time," Caldwell added.
Police juror Dorth Blade said he does not believe jurors are compensated enough for the amount of time and effort that's required of the position.
"I don't think jurors are getting paid what they should," Blade said. "I ran for police juror because I was not getting the service in my district that I wanted. As far as the pay scale, I would go along with the president."
The Legislature last changed the pay scale for parish police jurors in 1997.
Parish treasurer Brad Cammack said if the police jury voted for any increase, it could be up to the maximum amount.
"It doesn't have to be the full amount," Cammack said. "It could be anything up to that amount. If an individual police juror chose not to accept the raise, we would have to pay you, but you could donate it back."
No motion was made by any jurors regarding the pay increase.