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Breaking down the changes in the Mayor-President's Office

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Posted at 2:27 PM, Oct 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-05 15:27:22-04

The City and Parish councils will reconsider an item vetoed by Mayor President Josh Guillory at a joint meeting on October 6.

The councils voted to remove four pay increases for people in Guillory's office, including his director of minority affairs and his chief of staff, that were in the budget.

Guillory vetoed the removal last week, stating that the increases weren't "raises" but were due to the restructuring of his office and assignment of additional duties. He also says in his message that he's reduced the payroll costs in his office by more than 25 percent.

The councils now will consider an override. The City Council already has overridden Guillory's veto of an ordinance hiring an attorney to represent them in disputes with the Mayor.

In this case, the amendment was one of more than 30 general amendments approved by both councils during the joint budget adoption meeting. All of the general amendments were approved at the same time, with one vote. The city council vote was unanimous, and the parish council vote was unanimous as well, although councilman John Guilbeau was absent from the meeting.

In order to override Guillory's veto, four council members on each council would have to vote in favor of the override.

We looked at the records, and the reduction in costs for the office, as recommended by Guillory, is closer to 23 percent, or 21 percent when benefits are included - but it is still less than what the former Mayor was spending.

When Guillory took office, he eliminated some positions in his office, and re-named and re-structured others. We did request job descriptions for the positions, but were told City Attorney Greg Logan that they weren't required for these positions and do not exist. Therefore, there are no details regarding the duties of employees who are being paid almost $500,000 in taxpayer dollars.

Three positions were eliminated: Chief Cultural Officer ($77,112 salary); Project Front Yard Enforcement ($36,349 salary); and a mayoral assistant position aimed at "governmental affairs" ($91,035 salary).

Two mayoral assistant positions, with a combined salary cost of $140,658, were replaced with a new position, chief of staff, with a proposed salary of $103,800. This is one of the salary changes that the councils eliminated; the current salary for this position is $89,250.

A mayoral assistant/communications specialist position was replaced with a senior communications specialist position, with a proposed change in salary from $47,250 to $49,250.

The chief communications officer salary was reduced from the $74,970 under Mayor Joel Robideaux to $65,000.

A mayoral assistant position paying $50,284 was replaced with the chief of minority affairs position, with a recommended salary of $60,000.

A mayoral assistant/administrative position paying $41,213 was replaced with two administrative specialists with a combined salary of $93,621.

And, a secretary I position paying $27,307 was replaced with an executive receptionist position paying $33,000.

One position, that of Disability Awareness Coordinator (salary $12,852) is currently vacant but will be filled, a spokesman said.

Including the mayor's position, which pays $119,385, the salary-only cost of the personnel in the Mayor-President's office was $789,660 in the 19/20 adopted budget (including the 5 percent salary increase approved by the council in November 2019) and the salary-only cost of the personnel in Guillory's proposed budget was $606,788. That's a difference of 23 percent.

In addition, Guillory's proposed non-personnel costs for his office were proposed at $83,111 - which is about 38 percent lower than the amount approved last year for non-personnel costs for the office.