Industry battling over state appointments and river pilot fees

    Even as alleged improprieties in the selection of its at-large commissioners are hashed out in 19th Judicial District Court, industry representatives on the Louisiana Pilotage Fee Commission say they face a more enduring and costly problem: Flawed methodology for calculating compensation, they contend, is putting millions of additional dollars in the pockets of state river pilots at the expense of industry.

    As Business Report details, public records extrapolated by the Louisiana Chemical Association show that state pilot compensation exceeded target compensation goals by as much as 31% in 2017 (the latest available data), with individual pilot wages exceeding $700,000 in some cases. In total, these overages resulted in a $44 million increase in additional cost for the industries requiring their services.

    Officials representing riverboat pilots dispute those figures, saying the math used to calculate the figures is incorrect.

    The LCA is one of four industry representatives on the LPFC, along with four from the river pilots’ associations and three independent, at-large appointees. Created by the 2004 Legislature, the commission establishes rates and fees charged by state river pilots operating on the Mississippi and Calcasieu rivers.

    Each year, the estimates are presented to the commission by the river’s three pilot groups. Despite the fact that the river pilots’ 2017 tax filings show they received pay above the commission-approved target compensation, the river pilots’ association groups contend that their pilots are working more hours, given the lower-than-projected number of pilots, and therefore should be compensated accordingly. Read the full story.

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