NEW IBERIA, La. — Some members of the Iberia Parish Council announced they would return a portion of their salary back to the parish general fund during Tuesday's council meeting during the parish's recent economic downturn.
During the council member announcements portion of the meeting, District 5 Councilman Warren P. Gachassin, Jr. cited the recent news that Ruby Tuesday in New Iberia announced that it would close permanently as a sign that the parish's economic downturn affects everyone.
"I recognize the hard times that we’re in in the parish and seeing our businesses and constituents struggle on a daily basis," said Gachassin. "I’ve taken it upon myself to decrease my salary and donate my salary of one third of what I collect from the parish each month back to the parish general fund for the next six months."
Gachassin said he had already given his check to Clerk of the Council Brenda Bergeron before the meeting and that it was no obligation to any other council member.
Gachassin said it was something that he felt he needed to do similar to the decision he made several years ago to take himself of of the parish's insurance plan when he saw that the budget was diminishing.
"I feel if it needs to get any further than I’ll continue to help as much as we can, even if it can save one employee, either part-time employee or full-time," he said. "There’s a lot of uncertainty out there and our employees are worried and I just want to stand with them. It’s not often that you hear public servants cutting their pay, but I think it’s a start for us to show the public that we understand what’s going on and that we’re with them."
District 11 Councilman Brian Napier also joined Gachassin by giving his check to the council clerk. Napier said he would continue doing so each month for the next six months and revisit the decision after six months to see if he needed to go any further.
"I too am worried about where we stand and where we’re going," said Napier.
District 8 Councilman James Trahan also gave the council clerk a check for 40% of his net pay to try to help give back.
“I know it’s not a whole lot, but if enough people can do it and even if we save one person’s job where they don’t have to go home and tell their family that they lost their job within the government right here in Iberia Parish then I think that it’s worth it for me to do," said Trahan. "And I just want to try to help and give back with whatever I can do."
District 9 Councilman Scott Ransonet said he wanted to jump on the bandwagon and joined Gachassin, Napier and Trahn to return a portion of his salary.
"I think until we get out of the Phase 1, 2 & 3 it would be a good idea until our economy comes back at least and somewhat resembles what it was before," said Ransonet. "I’m going to go ahead and jump on that bandwagon. I think it’s a great idea."
You can watch the full Iberia Parish Council meeting from Tuesday, May 13 here.
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