PORT ALLEN — The City Council on Wednesday decided against paying former Mayor Derek Lewis about $19,000 in vacation pay immediately, choosing instead to seek an opinion from the state Attorney General’s Office to determine whether the city actually owes the money.
Lewis resigned in June just hours before he pleaded guilty in Baton Rouge federal court to a racketeering charge.
Lewis, 50, admitted he accepted bribes from undercover operatives posing as businessman who were looking for a city contract.
The phony businessmen were pitching a government-created garbage can-cleaning service known as Cifer 5000.
Councilman Irvrie Johnson proposed paying Lewis the money — an idea that was swept aside when Mayor Pro-Tem Ralph Bergeron suggested the council first seek an attorney general’s opinion.
“My understanding is that you have to look at vacation pay as a liability in the budget, and it’s not in the budget,” Bergeron said.
The mayor pro-tem further said he would like some accounting done to make sure Lewis is entitled to the 420 hours in vacation pay the former mayor claims he is owed.
Voting to postpone paying Lewis until the Attorney General’s Office has weighed in were: Bergeron, Hugh Riviere and Roger Bergeron. Council members Johnson and Ray Helen Lawrence voted against the proposal.
Other business the council addressed included:
PAY RAISES: The council voted unanimously to give city employees a 2 percent pay raise — the city’s first pay hike in two years.
City accountant Tommy LeJeune said the $60,000 annual cost would be offset by cuts to funds previously allocated to promote the city and from nonessential city contracts.
Assistant Chief Financial Officer Philip J. Mason Sr. called the pay raise, “the ethical way,” for the city to act.
“We can’t go this long without giving employees a pay raise,” he said.
Moments later, however, the City Council on a 3-2 vote denied Mason the temporary pay raise he’d requested for himself to bring his pay more in line with his actual duties as acting chief financial officer.
Ralph Bergeron, Riviere and Roger Bergeron voted against Mason’s request, while Johnson and Lawrence voted in
favor of the temporary pay raise.