State Rep. Joel Robideaux issued a press release Thursday suggesting that City-Parish President Joey Durel “slipped into the budget” an 8.3 percent pay raise for himself and his successor, insinuating without actually saying that Robideaux’s competitor, current LCG Chief Administrative Officer Dee Stanley, is up to the old sneaky-sneaky. Stanley and his boss, Durel, are calling BS on Robideaux’s accusation.
First, the press release issued by Robideaux:
Lafayette CPA and State Representative Joel Robideaux will not accept the 8.3% pay raise placed in the budget by the current Administration, if elected City-Parish President.
“I will not accept the 8.3% pay raise slipped into the budget and disclosed publicly only after final passage. Our parish has many critical needs, and this is clearly not one of them.
This is not the first time this Administration has slipped large pay raises into the budget at the last minute. These kinds of actions erode trust in government and make it harder to achieve public consensus on critical issues. They also have a cost significantly greater than just the additional funds that can’t be used for other priorities. The long-term retirement and benefit costs can easily run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, especially for someone who has been employed by LCG for a long time.”
Durel and Stanley are having none of it, each pointing out that the raise was in the budget Durel submitted to the City-Parish Council three months ago, and going further to clarify how pay raises for elected officials in Lafayette actually work.
“I know the state [sneaks money into budgets] a lot but over here we put it in a proposed budget,” Durel said Thursday afternoon when contacted by phone. “It was sitting in plain sight, and it would seem to me that a CPA — somebody looking for this job — would have a better handle on sneaking something in.”
Eye-y’yie, as they say.
What the Robideaux press release also didn’t indicate is that the Lafayette Home Rule Charter allows for up to a 10 percent pay hike for elected officials, but that pay raise is locked in for four years. So, for example, if the city-parish president includes, say, a 5 percent pay raise for his/her position in a fiscal year budget, that 5 percent raise is locked in for the next four years. Elected officials can choose to take part, all or none of a budgeted pay raise, too. Durel tells The IND he has typically only accepted the same raise given to LCG employees — usually no more than 2 percent, and in years when employees weren’t given a raise, he took nothing.
Stanley is quick to note that if he’s elected city-parish president, he won’t be getting an 8.3 percent pay raise when he’s sworn in on Jan. 5. In fact, even if he accepted the customary 2 percent raise budgeted for LCG employees he would be taking a pay cut.
“If I am elected and sworn in in January, the salary that I will accept is a $6,100 pay reduction over what I am making as chief administrative officer,” Stanley points out. “When I looked at running for this job, I did not make salary of the position a priority, and that has not changed. So the money that I anticipate will be in the budget is the current funding in this year’s budget plus 2 percent, which is what all of the employees get. If I accept that raise, that will be $119,000 [per year], which will be $6,100 less than what I’ll be making on Nov. 1 [the start of the next fiscal year].”
The 8.3 percent figure used by the Robideaux campaign represents the 10 percent raise Durel placed in the budget — the maximum allowed by the charter — prorated to reflect that the next city-parish president will be sworn in two months into the fiscal year. But, both Durel and Stanley reiterate, it was in the budget Durel submitted to the council in late June.
“The other issue where they’re completely, factually incorrect is that it was snuck into the budget and was not disclosed until final passage,” Stanley says. “That is absolutely incorrect. It was in the mayor’s proposed budget when he sent it down three months ago. It was not added to the budget by amendment from the council or the mayor. And I think it is ironic and hypocritical that someone who just presided over a legislative session where multiple, multiple items were snuck in without the sunshine of public review — as I said, it’s ironic and it’s hypocritical. The Legislature in the waning days of this session is the textbook on sneaking things into a budget.”