St. Charles Parish Council members approved the parish’s proposed budget, which includes wage increases for all parish workers.
However, some council members questioned the fact that by increasing the wages for all parish employees, the payroll would swell to over $20 million.
Council Chairman Dennis Nuss and Councilwoman-at-large Carolyn Schexnaydre supported raise increases for entry level civil service workers, but questioned why appointee salaries are so high.
Nuss asked for more information to allow him to compare last year’s budget for appointees to this year’s budget.
Parish President V. J. St. Pierre explained that no appointee would get more than a 7.9 percent pay increase. The budget currently reflects a total of 7.9 percent raises for all appointed employees, but St. Pierre says that doesn’t mean everyone will get the full amount.
“The extra money is built into the budget, but that doesn’t mean they’ll get the full amount of the merit raise,” he said. “If you want quality people you have to pay them decent salaries to keep them employed with the parish.”
As an example, she showed St. Pierre on the budget’s proposed salary increase for appointees where one appointed person would get at least a 19 percent pay raise if all of the proposed increases were approved.
“I’m in favor of those civil service workers and entry-level parish workers getting a pay increase, but the salaries for appointees are too high,” she said. “I wish there was a way to vote for the lowest paid in the parish to get increases and not the highest paid.”
Sandy Zimmer, head of personnel for the parish, explained the Archer Group’s proposed plan and how it would impact some of those lowest paid in the parish.
The Archer Group was brought in to do a salary study of the parish’s civil service employees.
“The results of the study would increase salaries of entry-level civil service workers,” she said. “These workers are hard to retain because the parish salaries starting out are so low.”
Once an entry-level civil service worker reaches the top of the pay scale, they are at the peak and are only eligible for a cost of living increase, which is given annually to both appointed and civil service workers.
Councilman Paul Hogan asked Zimmer for an example of a proposed salary increase.
“The Archer Group’s report compares what we pay our workers as it relates to parishes of the same or comparable size,” Zimmer said. “Based on those findings, for example, a custodian’s pay would move up from $6.18 an hour starting salary to $8.18.”