CLINTON — An East Feliciana Parish Police Jury committee decided Tuesday to recommend that the jury set a salary for the new parish coroner, which members said may be a first for the parish.
Voters elected Laura DeJohn on Nov. 6 to finish the term begun by her husband, Dr. Michael DeJohn, who died earlier this year.
Finance Committee members said Michael DeJohn and at least two of the physicians who preceded him in office did not ask the jury for salaries but operated their office with the fees state law allowed them to collect.
Laura DeJohn, a licensed practical nurse, asked the jury to set her salary at $56,000, allow her to collect the coroner’s fees and to use a car once used by a former parish manager.
After considerable discussion, the committee persuaded DeJohn to accept a salary of $30,000, if the full jury approves it at a meeting Monday, and the fees the office generates. She also would get the use of the car.
Jurors said the office generates about $18,000 to $20,000 each year in fees.
Juror Chris Hall said he believes DeJohn should get paid a regular salary because she is on call at all times, but he suggested the compromise to the committee and DeJohn finally accepted.
The committee also said it will recommend the jury approve DeJohn’s request to establish her office in a building on Clinton’s main street for a monthly rent of $500.
At least two of the parish’s five mayors showed up for the meeting to discuss changing the formula by which a 1-cent parishwide sales tax is divided among five municipalities and the Police Jury, but the mayors left as the committee discussed the coroner’s pay and went over the jury’s 2015 budget.
The committee met in a small room around a conference table, but Slaughter Mayor Robert Jackson and Norwood Mayor Becky Bellue waited outside the crowded room. After about 90 minutes, jurors discovered they had left.
The sales tax and three other taxes are on the Dec. 6 ballot for 10-year renewals, but Jackson threatened last week to campaign against the tax because the population-based distribution formula is outdated.
Jurors said the formula may have been devised in the 1970s.
Jackson said his town gets a smaller percentage of the revenues collected than the village of Wilson, which has a population nearly half that of Slaughter’s.
The tax in question is dedicated to road improvements.
Jurors said last week they are open to asking voters to change the distribution formula in a special election next year if the tax is renewed Dec. 6.
Parish Manager J.R. Rouchon said four of the five municipalities would lose money if the formula is based on the 2010 census and only Slaughter and the Police Jury would gain money.