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|Merit-based pay raises proposed|
The Ouachita Parish Police Jury may consider changing the way Green Oaks Detention Center employees get pay raises to a merit-based system.
However, police jury vice president Walt Caldwell said he would not support the proposal for a number of reasons.
The issue of switching to a merit-based pay adjustment system was discussed by the police jury during Monday's regular meeting.
Green Oaks director Mike Rhodes said the detention center's board of directors voted recently to adopt a merit-based pay adjustment system. If approved by the police jury, Green Oaks officials would use annual employee evaluations as a tool for merit-based pay adjustments in 2010.
Under a merit system, employees who score higher on their annual evaluations would receive a higher pay increase each year. The police jury typically provides its employees with an annual cost-of-living raise.
Under the current system, Rhodes said people who score low on their evaluations get the same pay increase as people who score high.
Police juror Ruby Blade said she had discussed the merit-based raise proposal with Rhodes.
"It's something that's based on individual performance, and it would be an overall improvement to the moral of the employees," Blade said. "It would motivate them to go above and beyond the call of duty."
Rhodes said the Green Oaks board of directors voted to grant merit-based raises up to 10 percent.
"The police jury would have the final say-so about the percent," Rhodes said.
Police juror Charles Jackson said the 10 percent pay increase was "a little on the high side."
Caldwell said he could not support the request due to past problems with merit-based pay adjustments as well as the promise made to voters when they approved a property tax to fund Green Oaks operations.
"The police jury had merit pay at one time and it was a fabulous failure," Caldwell said. "Huge failure. The problem became there was explosive growth in the payment of a few people and not others. Those who made the most off merit pay … they're not here anymore. They all got fired."
"I think this is a bad deal," Caldwell continued. "If you adopt merit pay, there are some serious questions about how you implement the policy, and how it's done objectively and fairly. Having the experience I've walked in the door with five years ago, I'm not in favor of merit pay, and I won't vote for it."
He also said there was a "commitment made by the police jury and by Green Oaks back when the last tax was passed," which showed how the detention center would be operated, including the amount of raises for employees each year.
"This merit pay would do away with that," Caldwell said. "We can call it what we want, but that's breaking a promise, and we've got this tax coming back up in a few years, and, if you break promises, people are going to remember it."
"Mike, I'm sorry," Caldwell said, directing his remarks toward Rhodes. "Your folks deserve some raises, and they deserve more than what they've got. I think your folks deserve significant raises. But, at the same point and time with so many of our other operations, there's only so much money to go around to spend on certain things. This is one of our smaller tax entities, so basically, there's only a certain amount of tax dollars we can use."
Police juror Pat Moore suggested that police jury staff determine what other parishes are doing regarding merit-based raises. She plans to revisit the issue at the Nov. 1 police jury meeting during the police jury's personnel committee meeting.
Moore chairs the personnel committee.