Terrebonne hikes maximum salary for executives

The Terrebonne Parish Council has agreed to raise the maximum salaries for executive positions within the consolidated government by $10,000.

The ordinance will affect 13 Terrebonne Parish employees, with their new maximum salaries from about $107,000 to about $143,000. While these employees did not earn any raise, the midpoints for their salary ranges also increased.

Parish President Michel Claudet put the ordinance on last Wednesday’s council agenda. He stressed that nobody has received a raise, but that the ordinance gives Parish President-elect Gordon Dove more flexibility in making hires.

“It was important to get it done before so the new parish president has some latitude to fill vacating parish positions,” Claudet said.

However, some council members did not agree with approving the raise now. The vote was 5-2 in favor, with Arlanda Williams and Beryl Amedee absent from the meeting. Councilmen Danny Babin and Russell Hornsby both voted against raising the maximum pay.

Hornsby said that with the current weak economy, the parish should not be proposing such ordinances.

“It’s the timing that is not right on this. I would have probably voted for this if oil was at $100 a barrel, the economy was booming like it had been the three years previous to this year. I would have had no problem with that,” Hornsby said.

Babin echoed Hornsby’s statements that he would have probably voted in favor of it had the economy been in better shape. He stressed that the parish must spend taxpayer dollars wisely, particularly in these lean times.

“It’s taxpayer dollars; your dollars and my dollars. Sometimes does that make it easier to spend? Well, yeah, but we have a fiduciary responsibility to be good stewards of the taxpayer dollar. I just think that this is a poor time,” Babin said.

Both councilmen expressed skepticism that passing this ordinance would not result in a raise for an incoming executive for the parish.

“Why are they asking for an increase in salary ranges if in the back of their mind they’re not intending on bumping the salary? That doesn’t make any sense,” Hornsby said.

Babin tried to delay the vote and put it to a public hearing for the first meeting of the new parish government in January. However, the council voted down his efforts.

“I think something as important as this should be voted on by the new council, not this outgoing council,” Babin said.

At the council meeting, Claudet noted that a lot of executive positions in Terrebonne have salaries that were not competitive with industry standards.

“When I came in for my initial term, they had so many of the directors that were so far below what the private industry was at that particular time. We needed to do certain things,” he said.

“Right now in private business, in the private sector, people are cutting jobs by the thousands. Businesses are having to close their doors, and my thinking is that you should be able to find somebody that could work for the present salary ranges,” Hornsby said.

Claudet said helping attract the best candidates to replace key staff was vital. •

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