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Opelousas mayor faces allegations of improper overtime pay - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Opelousas mayor faces allegations of improper overtime pay

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OPELOUSAS, La. -

An overtime pay request by Opelousas mayor Reggie Tatum has some questioning whether it's legal. 

It stems from the historic flood. According to a payroll report that's been shared online, Tatum billed the city for 234 hours, adding up to nearly  $12, 972.96. The problem is he's a salaried employee.
 
Tatum is defending himself against accusations that he's cashing in on the historic flood, but questions still linger about whether it's even legal. Mayor Tatum tells us that he was paid for working in a shelter during the flood and that FEMA will reimburse the city for the extra money he made. 
 
KATC reached out to Tatum several times throughout the week. We didn't get a response to our public records request. Friday evening we were able to discuss more with Tatum, after waiting 4 hours to meet with him at  his office.
 
He would only do the interview with who he referred to as his "legal consultant" in the room. "I was repurposed by FEMA," Tatum said when asked about how he could be paid overtime.  
 
"I was actually the shelter director and manager. I was re-purposed in my position and according to the statue and by FEMA you can do that. Salary employees can be paid overtime if they are repurposed in another job." 
 
According to FEMA, mayors are typically exempt from overtime because of the fair labor standards act, but there are exceptions.
 
"I had salaried city workers that were not doing their normal job," Tatum said. " According to FEMA if you've been repurposed then you can be paid overtime as a salaried employee because you're not doing your regular job. Same goes to mayor. We have the documentation."
 
When KATC asked for a copy of the documents Tatum had, his legal consultant cut off the interview. "One piece of paper on facebook should not have led to this," she said. 

Tatum and the legal consultant denied claims that the payroll report was illegal.  

The mayor also said the report that shows how much he made was only a rough draft, but wouldn't tell us what the actual amount. 

We made several formal public records requests  for the official pay report on overtime, written policies regarding how the mayor is paid and written policies regarding overtime pay in the city of Opelousas.

Legally, those public records requests need to be made available immediately, but we're told they still aren't ready.
city has 72 hours to compile that information.

FEMA couldn't comment on this specific case, but they did stated that they can reimburse city employees if they've been re-assigned from their duties to do disaster related work.

FEMA'S policy also says that mayors wouldn't be eligible for overtime unless they are normally paid overtime according to the city's policies.

When we asked why we never received a response to our public records requests, Tatum's legal consultant told us the city has 72 hours to compile that information.     

However, that's not what the law says. If there's no question these documents are public, then those public records must be produced immediately.

In Opelousas, residents still have questions and concerns. "If you salaried then that's what you should get paid for," resident Dawn Harmon said. " Not over time."

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