Councilman recommends increasing next Baton Rouge mayor’s pay to $225,000 annually

    Metro Councilman Joel Boé is recommending his colleagues set the next mayor’s salary at $225,000 annually, static over four years, and eliminate a provision that allows the mayor to be reimbursed for any unused vacation or sick time.

    Mayor Kip Holden, who is term-limited and in a runoff with former Plaquemines Parish president Billy Nungesser to be lieutenant governor, is set to earn $152,317 this year. That’s up from $146,590.03 earned in 2014, which was a 7.1% increase over his 2013 salary.

    In September, Council Administrator and Treasurer Casey Cashio submitted a report to council members recommending an annual salary of $157,000 for each year of the next mayor’s four-year term. The Metro Council has already twice deferred setting the pay, and Boé—who previously told Daily Report he feels the next mayor should be paid like a CEO—has come up with recommendation after taking a look at mayoral salaries in other peer cities.

    Cashio and Council Budget Officer Joe Toups surveyed seven peer cities in the research they did to come up with the $157,000 annual salary recommendation. Boé expanded on that study, surveying 12 southern cities, including New Orleans and Lafayette. Taking out the top and bottom paying cities, he found an average mayoral salary of slightly under $149,000. But Boé notes that East Baton Rouge Parish is a consolidated government, and many peer cities have a mayor and a county executive. And when he tallied up the pay of the mayor and the county executive in five cities he found an average salary of $317,435 for the two positions.

    Boé also notes in his research that the Baton Rouge mayor’s salary is currently not even among the 10 highest municipal salaries. While Boé is calling for a significant increase in the mayor’s pay, he also wants to curtail the position’s benefits by amending Ordinance 16040 to eliminate pay for unused sick and vacation time. That’s because Holden is expected to receive a roughly $150,000 check for sick and vacation time he has earned but not used for his three terms in office.

    “By doing so, we remove any lump sum payments that would be owed to the outgoing mayor-president for unused sick leave and vacation time,” Boé writes in a letter sent to his fellow council members.

    Boé is asking his fellow council members to once again defer setting the mayor’s salary until the Metro Council’s final meeting of the year on Dec. 9. The council is bound by city-parish law to set the incoming mayor’s salary one year before that person takes office. The pay will be effective on Jan. 1, 2017.

    See Boé’s research on the mayor’s pay.

    Also on Tuesday’s agenda, the council will take up the elimination of two Capital Area Transit System bus routes that have low-ridership numbers and vote on outgoing Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle’s proposal to eliminate a question about criminal history on applications for city-parish jobs. There is also a public hearing set on Holden’s proposed budget for 2016. That item, the agenda says, must be recessed to the Dec. 8 meeting.

    The council will convene at 4 p.m. Tuesday on the third floor of City Hall, 222 St. Louis St. See the full agenda.

    —Ryan Broussard

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