Saturday, May 27, 2017

Mack’s bill to cap Marshal’s salary clears the House unanimously

Mack’s bill to cap Marshal’s salary clears the House unanimously
Posted: May 18, 2017
Categories: Front Page, Headlines
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A bill reallocating the civil fees that the 7th Ward Marshal can direct to his salary has cleared the Louisiana House of Representatives and is heading to the Senate.

Rep. Sherman Mack’s HB 73 was unanimously approved by the House Thursday afternoon with a vote of 94-0 with 11 members absent. Local 7th Ward-area representatives Chris Broadwater, Robby Carter, and Steve Pugh all voted with Mack’s proposal.

The bill, which was amended earlier this month and unanimously approved in the House Judiciary Committee, sets a maximum salary for the 7th Ward Marshal, who has recently come under fire for accepting a compensation package that totals upwards of $230,000. Critics have challenged incumbent Marshal Pat Farris, demanding that he make good on a campaign promise to accept the “minimum salary” for the office; however, Farris has maintained that he not only lowered his “base salary” but that he also requested legislation that would allow him to distribute a larger portion the civil fees his staff collects back into the general operation of the office.

Under the current version of the bill, the Marshal would receive $72,000 in base salary and up to $39,586 in fees collected by the office to fund his total compensation package. In an interview with Mack last weekend, the Livingston-based representative said the proposed $111,586 salary would encompass the Marshal’s total compensation package, including health insurance, retirement, and reimbursements.

If passed by both chambers, the bill would become law effective August of this year. Despite the bill's progress in the Legislature, local governments appear to be taking measures to also limit any funds the marshal could allocate toward his salary. So far, the Tangipahoa Parish Council has adopted an “immediate” $40,000 cut for the Marshal, and the Mayor of Hammond has proposed a $50,000 cut for the coming budget year. Reliable sources indicate the City of Ponchatoula, which has contributed $50,000 per year for the last two years, has opted against including that annual contribution in their proposed 2017-18 budget.

Hammond and Ponchatoula will hold their annual budget hearings on June 16 at 5:30 p.m. and on June 10 at 6 p.m., respectively. The 7th Ward Marshal also holds an annual budget hearing and that meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Friday, June 2, in the 7th Ward Courtroom. All three budget hearings are open to the public.

Related stories:
Rep. Sherman Mack introduces bill to cap marshal’s salary

Mayor releases extremely tight budget; cuts Farris $50K

Tangipahoa Parish Council votes to cut marshal $40K

Analysis: 7th Ward Marshal was LA’s highest paid in 2015


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