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(Photograph of Council member Harold Taylor, taken by Freddie Herpin)
BOBBY ARDOIN Editor/Consulting Writer

The St. Landry Parish Council members might have to wait another year to collect a proposed $400 per-month pay raise approved on Thursday night by a Finance Committee, according to  parish president Jessie Bellard.

Bellard said that he has already told council members during individual meetings that adding another $400 per-month to their monthly salaries will potentially cost the parish another $67,000 annually.

That’s an expenditure increase the parish currently can’t afford, Bellard added.

At this point Bellard said the priority for 2024 parish operating budget is financing parish inmate expenses which continue to escalate.

“I’ve already told some of the council members that (the parish) can’t afford (a monthly council member salary raise) in the 2024 budget. That’s due to the inmate problem. The jail right now is at capacity. Right now any raises for the Council would have to happen in 2025,” Bellard said.

Bellard added that there could be money available for the raises in 2025, providing his plan for reducing almost $1 million in annual parish inmate costs is put into place.

Each council member currently earns $1,056 each month in salary.

Parish Council member Wayne Ardoin said during an interview following the Thursday night meeting, that he can’t remember the last time that either council members or police jurors who were elected before 2004, were granted pay raises.

The Finance Committee moved the council member pay raise agenda item to a full council meeting scheduled later in November. 

Council member Vivian Olivier placed the item on the Thursday Finance Committee agenda. Olivier acknowledged during a brief Committee discussion on the matter that any pay raise for council members would probably occur in 2025 rather than 2024.

Olivier was reelected to represent District 8 during the October 14 primary election. Olivier received 1,009 or 61.5 percent of the votes. Challenger Joey Richard received 631 votes according to the official election returns.

The vote on establishing the raises will have to be decided before 2024, Olivier told the Council since council members start new four-year terms starting in January.

Council Attorney Garrett Duplechain said any change in monthly salaries for the Council would have to be established by an ordinance.

Finance Committee members Easton Shelvin, Dexter Brown, Timmy LeJeune and Lynn LeJeune voted for the proposed monthly pay raise. Committee member Harold Taylor voted “no.”