AMITE — On a split vote Monday, the Tangipahoa Parish Council tabled a proposed 3 percent annual raise for Jeff McKneely, who has been serving as director of parish finances for several years.
The issue of whether or not McKneely should be awarded a raise as director of finance brought an outburst from Councilman Nicky Muscarello, who accused Parish President Gordon Burgess of “trying to do everything in a sneaky way.”
Muscarello said the council never approved McKneely as director of finance and his nomination to the post was never presented to the council by Burgess, as required by the parish charter.
McKneely was assistant to the late Buddy Wier, who was director of finance for many years. McKneely continued to oversee the parish’s finances and last year was given a raise by the council.
Council Attorney Cliff Speed said the parish charter requires the parish president to select a director and then submit that name to the council for approval. Speed said it is unclear if the council, in awarding McKneely a raise at an earlier time, also intended that McKneely be regarded as the official finance director.
“I have looked at the minutes and it is not clear to me. This is not my call since I represent both the council and the parish. Ultimately, you may have to ask a judge to rule on the matter,” Speed said. The attorney added that he hopes the council would not spend money seeking a legal opinion and instead resolve the matter with the parish president.
The council, meanwhile, did vote to give 3 percent raises to Director of Public Works Nace Garafola and Personnel Director Ginny Baker.
Also, the council gave its final approval for tipping fees at the Parish Landfill. A new category of solid waste, termed commercial waste, will bear a tipping fee of $35 per ton. Residential waste will be billed at $30.13 a ton, a $1 increase over the old fee. Rural residents who bring their own household garbage to the landfill can do so for free. The tipping fee for roofing materials is $14.57 per ton, a fee that remains unchanged. Sewer sludge disposal will be billed at 15 cents per gallon, up from the old fee of 10 cents.