Monthly pay for Livingston Parish council members will now depend on what the state Legislature sets as the maximum.
Eight council members voted Thursday night in favor of an ordinance that sets the council members' pay at 75 percent of the state limit.
Council members in favor of the ordinance, which was introduced last month by Maurice "Scooter" Keen, have said it allows the office's salary to increase with cost of living over time and encourages qualified candidates to run, without forcing members to take the politically unpopular step of giving themselves a raise.
The ordinance will take effect in 2020, because the home rule charter says that any ordinance to raise council pay must not take effect until the next council is seated.
Also, the ordinance will not change the council's pay for the known future. The state legislative maximum is currently $1,600 a month. The Livingston Parish Council members make $1,200 a month, which is 75 percent of the legislative figure.
Despite discussion at the November meeting about potential blow back from constituents, no residents addressed the ordinance at Thursday's meeting.
Albany-area council member Shane Mack opposed the proposal when it was introduced last month, questioning whether the pay issue should be a priority for the council. But he was not present at Thursday's meeting.
The council members last saw a pay raise in 2002. Since that time, they have lost health insurance as a benefit.
Also Thursday, the council approved a $52.66 million budget for 2018 that anticipates sales tax revenue to continue to rise and that includes $16 million for roads and the jail.
The budget allows for expenditures to exceed revenues by $5.7 million, as the parish dips into its reserves to do a road overlay project.
For road overlay, the the parish council voted to accept a list of 23 priority roads worth $4.47 million to repave in 2018. Keen said after the meeting the roads were scored by an engineer as to their condition.
Among the bigger projects:
- James Chapel Road from La. 441 to Shadow Lake Drive and from 28705 James Chapel Road to La. 43 between Holden and Albany, budgeted at $983,940.
- Joe May Road between La. 447 and Brown Road in Walker, budgeted at $818,685.
- Springhill Drive off Pete's Highway in Denham Springs, budgeted at $494,868.
- River Highlands Drive near French Settlement, budgeted at $389,850.
- Six residential roads within the Creekside Estates subdivision in Denham Springs for $516,948 and four within the Lakes at Fennwood subdivision in Walker for $476,721.
Public Works Director Sam Digirolamo has said the parish's last major overlay project was completed in early 2016.
The council also approved a request by Watson-area council member Garry "Frog" Talbert to remove two roads from the parish maintenance system, saying they were wrongfully allowed in to begin with.
Talbert said Legacy Lane and Causey Crossing never met the parish standards nor were they inspected, although that was to be a condition of their acceptance in 2012. Despite that, records provided at the council meeting indicate the parish has spent $5,153 in labor, equipment and materials to maintain what he called gravel driveways.
"If we’re going to do this the right way, then we need to be stewards of the taxpayers' money with respect to road maintenance," Talbert said. "We don't need to upgrade roads that don't meet the standard."
He said the issue arose after he received a request for maintenance on the roads.
In other business, the council:
- increased construction permit fees by $50 to pay for an upgraded, digital system that will allow builders to apply for permits, schedule inspections and review their applications online.
- allowed Marshal Joe Schumate to levy a $10 fee on all court filings in Ward 2 and Ward 7 city courts to maintain a new court computer system.