Did Shreveport Council Chairman Break the Law With Raises?
SHREVEPORT, LA - In local city government, there isn't a higher position than that of the mayor. The City of Shreveport has a Mayor-Council form of government. It is supposed to work as a balance of power, much like the federal government's three distinct branches of government is supposed to do. But as we all know, it doesn't always work that way.
John Settle, of SettleTalk.com recently reported that Shreveport City Council staff members recently received huge raises that, according to Settle, were not authorized by the city council. KEEL News reached out to City Hall to confirm these raises, and obtain the salary information for each council staff person, and the salary information for the mayor.
This is the information we received from Marcus Edwards, Shreveport City Attorney.
On June 27, 2023:
· Shanerika Flemings- Clerk of Council- annual salary went from $90,000 to $100,799- (a $10,799 RAISE)
· Jacqueline White- Council Analyst- annual salary went from $99,491 to $109,440- (a $9,949 RAISE)
· LaTonya Bogan- Chief Deputy Clerk of Council- annual salary went from $86,081 to $96,411- (a $10,330 RAISE)
Terri Sanders- Deputy Clerk of Council- annual salary went from $52,919 to $56,624 - (a $3,705 RAISE)
RJ Johnson- Director of Council Affairs- Johnson was JUST hired in Feb. of this year- Annual salary of $85,000 to $87,204. (a $2,204 RAISE)
· The increases were signed by Council Chairman Rev. James Green
The CAO’s current salary is $199,000, and the Mayor’s salary (set by Sec. 2-31 of the Code of Ordinances) is $95,000.
In case you're keeping track, that's over $31,000 in raises to support personnel for the city council. Allegedly, these raises were instigated and authorized by City Council Chairman James Green, without authorization, or even knowledge of other council members. Should one person have the authority to spend the taxpayer's money in such an unchecked fashion?
Councilwoman Ursula Bowman released the following statement:
“I was totally unaware of the recent salary increases unilaterally given to members of the city council staff.
After reading Section 4.12 of the city charter, it appears the council, as opposed to an individual council member, has the sole authority to fix or increase the salaries of the city council staff. Since the council, as a whole, never authorized the salary increases, I feel strongly the salary increases are improper and violate Section 4.12 of the city charter.
Therefore, I feel compelled to vote to rescind the improper salary increases and seek reimbursement of any salary increases received by members of the council staff.”
KEEL News asked CAO Tom Dark if perhaps Green was acting as Mayor Pro Temps when he gave the order to raise the salaries. Dark tells us the Mayor was NOT out of town on that date.
Crime has become out of control in our city. We are 140 officers down from being fully staffed. We can't pay our police officers enough to attract enough officers to fully man the department, but we can give $10,000 raises to Clerks of Council? Paying six-figure, or near six-figure salaries to support personnel?
According to a February 2022 report from KTBS, here are the salary increases for the top 10 city employees. These were employees during the Perkins administration.
Here’s the top 10 salaries effective Feb. 15, according to information provided today by the city in response to a public records request:
Police Chief Wayne Smith, $195,359, up from $109,746
Fire Chief John Lane, $187,020, up from $170,444
Chief Administrative Officer Henry Whitehorn, $180,800, up from $160,000
City engineer Patrick Furlong, $177,597, up from $157,159
City attorney Ron Lattier, $169,508, up from $149,999
Chief financial officer Kasey Brown, $157, 072, up from $139,000
Public Works director Gary B. Norman, $152,705, up from $135,137
Chief technology officer Keith Hanson, $152,559, up from $134,999
Human Resources director Sherron Williams, $150,543, up from $133,224
Community Development director Bonnie Moore, $146,902, up from $130,000
Clerk of Council Shenerika Flemings released a public notice on Tuesday morning that stated:
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the Shreveport City Council will hold a Special Meeting on Wednesday, August 16, 2023, at 9:00 a.m. The meeting will be held in the Government Plaza Chamber, 505 Travis Street, Shreveport, Louisiana. The purpose of the meeting is as follows:
· To introduce legislation to rescind the unauthorized salary increases of the council employees, to fix the salaries to the amount immediately preceding the increases, and to reimburse the City of Shreveport in the manner prescribed by Council for all money allocated to the employees as a result of the unauthorized increased.
· To introduce legislation to launch an investigation regarding the receipt of documentary evidence of unauthorized salary increased to Council employees.
No other business will be conducted at the meeting.
SPECIAL MEETING AGENDA
August 16, 2023
1. Call to Order
3. Roll Call
4. Public Comments
Introduction of Resolutions
A Resolution to Immediately Rescind the Recent Salary Increases of the Employees of the Council and to Fix the Amount Immediately Proceeding These Increases, and to Otherwise Provide with Respect Thereto.
A Resolution to Launch a City Council Investigation as Authorized by Section 4.29 of the City of Shreveport, Louisiana Charter, and to Provide with Respect Thereto.
The issue of the raises for council staff is expected to be addressed at a specially called Council meeting on Wednesday.
Largest Shreveport City Salaries After 2022 Pay Raises
Louisiana Parishes Ranked By Salaries