AMITE — When Hammond City Court Marshal-elect Pat Farris is sworn into office in January, he will be filling a position with a salary $12,156 less than what current Marshal Gordon Anderson receives.
In Saturday’s runoff, Farris defeated Jeff LeSaicherre in a race in which the marshal’s salary was an issue. Anderson, who held the post for more than 30 years, chose not to run for re-election.
The parish had been kicking in $14,586 toward the salary. On Monday, the council voted to decrease that amount to a $2,430 supplement, an amount set by the state Legislature in 1986. The state statute prohibits the parish from trimming the marshal’s salary by more than that amount.
The marshal’s annual salary is split between the Parish Council and the city of Hammond.
Parish Councilman Nicky Muscarello, who brought the matter to the council at two previous meetings, said he has not been able to learn exactly how much Hammond pays the marshal but said it is his understanding it is somewhere around $55,000 a year.
The council began discussing the matter a month ago when it was learned Anderson’s actual pay was about $180,000 for the past year. By state law, the marshal is allowed to supplement his pay from discretionary funds derived from fines, fees and other services provided by his office.
Also on Monday, the council voted to require railroad companies operating in the parish to abide by parish property maintenance regulations.
Councilman Carlo Bruno has said Canadian Northern Railroad, which operates a track that runs the length of the parish, had not been maintaining railroad rights-of-way, particularly at crossings. Bruno said tall grass and other vegetation at many crossings has become a hazard to motorists.
Bruno reminded the council that last year the state Department of Transportation and Development closed four crossings in Tangipahoa Parish at the request of Canadian Northern. Those closings were repeatedly opposed by dozens of residents.
Under the amended ordinance, Canadian Northern is required to keep grass cut on its property to a length of not more than 18 inches. The railroad is also required to keep rights-of-way free of litter, waste, household garbage and many other types of materials.
“If they do not comply, then they can pay the fine or if we have to clean it up for them, they will be billed,” Bruno said. The ordinance calls for a fine of $100 a day. If the parish has to clean up property, it can bill the company double the cost of the cleanup.