KATC Investigates

May 20, 2013 12:00 AM by Steven Albritton

How much does your councilman spend?

In an effort to bring more transparency to local government, KATC poured through receipts to find out how much the council is spending above their yearly salary.

Each of the nine councilmen earn a little more than $25,000 a year to serve for the four year terms.

Beyond their salaries, they also set their individual expense budgets during the annual budget process. Those expense budgets, to be used for travel, tourism and meetings, range from $3,000 to $8,000, but it's up to use those budgets.

But only five of the nine councilmen used city credit cards or asked for reimbursements above their salaries. Their expenses totaled $19,512 in 2012.

That was spent on trips, mileage and cell phone reimbursements and food -- expenses that must be reviewed or approved.

"As long as it fits into the budget parameters and is approved, there is no wrong doing," LCG attorney Mike Hebert said.

Five councilmen used their expense budgets last year. Click on their name to view their expense report:
- Kenneth Boudreaux: $7,364.66
- Don Bertrand: $6,848.64
- Brandon Shelvin: $3,601.54
- Kevin Naquin: $1,247.29
- Keith Patin: $450

And three of them spent 91 percent of that money - Shelvin, Bertrand and Boudreaux.

Boudreaux and Bertrand used almost $12,000 on travel. Boudreaux traveled to two National Black Caucus Conventions in New Orleans, another in Boston and a Louisiana Municipal Association Conference in Lake Charles. He said the money is available, approved for his use and will help his community.

"I can go and bring back ideas. It's the face to face relationships that get things done," Boudreaux said.

Bertrand traveled on the parish's dime to American Public Power Association Conference and Legislative Rally in Washington D.C., a Walking Communities event in Houston, a bond rating meeting in Dallas and went to to two bond meetings in New Orleans.

His position within APPA increases his traveling, Bertrand said.

Coming in third in expenses for Brandon Shelvin.

A majority of his money is spent on travel, including a trip two trips to New Orleans for a bond meeting, another New Orleans trip for a scholarship brunch and a Louisiana Municipal Association Conference.

However, he also has the distinction of being the councilman who spends the most taxpayer money on food.

He wouldn't go on camera, so we pulled receipts. See the receipts here

Shelvin spent the most on food at $353.66. He was the only councilman to ask for money to eat ahead of budget meetings, turning in receipts for Subway and Logan's Farm.

He spent the remaining $337.54 on five business meals. They were:
- $67.05 at Fezzo's in Crowley with his half-brother Tehmi Chassion to discuss "related government issues."
- $33.26 at Don's Downtown for a pre-council meeting dinner with Boudreaux, even though food is provided at council meetings.
- $87.88 at Fezzo's in Scott with state Rep. Vincent Pierre
- $137.86 at Zeus' Café with Neel-Schaffer's Jerry Trums and Fenstermaker president Kam Movassaghi to discuss I-49
- $21.49 at Agave Cantina with Public Works Director Tom Carroll to discuss coulee improvements.

Beyond the five councilmen who used their expense budgets, there are those who chose to leave that extra money untouched. They are Jay Castille, Jared Bellard, Andy Naquin, William Theriot.

Theriot said he choose to "practice what he preaches."
"I want to keep money in the tax-payer's pockets," Theriot said.

Across the parish --between every mayor, alderman and councilmen combined -- as a whole---they spent more than $52 thousand dollars above their annual salaries in 2012.

We could find no evidence of excessive spending that wasn't approved. Everyone we spoke to said it's a personal decision by each elected official how they choose to govern their district.

 

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