OPELOUSAS — The St. Landry Parish Council voted 7-4 on Wednesday night to consider giving parish president Bill Fontenot an annual $40,000 pay raise effective in January.
The proposed pay raise would boost the parish president’s salary to $105,000 a year.
Fontenot is paid $65,000 yearly, which is the same amount that’s been budgeted for the parish president salary since 2001, when the parish government began operating under a Home Rule Charter.
There was no discussion by the council on the pay raise request.
The council will consider Fontenot’s request as an ordinance to be discussed for final deliberation at the December meeting.
The council is scheduled to approve the 2016 budget at the January meeting.
In a letter provided to the council prior to the vote, Fontenot wrote that Sheriff Bobby Guidroz and Assessor Rhyn Duplechain each are paid about $136,000 annually.
Fontenot’s request Wednesday was the second time in three months he has asked for a pay raise.
In September, Fontenot announced his intention at a council committee meeting to request a pay raise.
At that time, Fontenot said in an interview that he wanted the pay boosted to $140,000. Five days later, he rescinded his request, saying he wanted to delay it until he could provide the public and council with more information.
Fontenot told the council Wednesday he has no retirement benefits as parish president, no parish-provided vehicle and is not reimbursed for any of his expenses.
Fontenot said he uses his own vehicle for parish business, and is reimbursed 52 cents per mile for his travel expenses. He said that comes to about $400 per month.
Voting for Fontenot’s raise were Jerry Red, Fekisa Miller-Mathews, Hurlin Dupre, Dexter Brown, Timothy LeJeune, Gary Courville and Jimmie Edwards.
Those voting “no” were Huet Dupre, Alvin Stelly, Pam Gautreau and Wayne Ardoin.
Council member Ronald Buschel was absent and chairman Leon Robinson was not required to vote.
Prior to Fontenot’s request, the council listened to presentations by St. Landry Parish and Acadiana regional business leaders who touted Fontenot’s leadership with promoting economic development.
Bill Rodier, executive director of the St. Landry Parish Economic Development District, said the Parish Council needs to recognize the importance of the position of parish president.
Kevin Belanger, interim CEO of the Acadiana Planning Commission, noted that Fontenot was recently chosen as commission chairman primarily because of his expertise in transportation planning.