Councilman John Nickelson explains why he will vote no for a one-time pay raise for Shreveport city workers at today's scheduled meeting.

Quoting Nickelson from a recent social media post: "As difficult as the decision has been, I've nonetheless come to the conclusion that I cannot support the administration's proposal to give a "one-time payment" ($1,000 for full-time employees and $500 for part-time employees) to employees who did not receive the public safety pay raise the Council approved last week."

However Nickelson says he has his doubts about the legality of the raise for two reasons. He explains that the Louisiana Attorneys General have time and again given opinions that the Louisiana Constitution prohibits "the payment of a bonus, or any other gratuitous unearned payment, to public employees." He then emphasizes that it is clear to him that the one-time payments to be voted on would in fact be gratuitous and, as a result, unconstitutional. "The Council simply cannot give away the public's money, even to deserving city employees," Nickelson says.

The first term councilman then explains, again quoting his post, "The fact sheet submitted with the legislation which would authorize the bonuses provides in part that the city is able to provide a "one-time lump sum pay increase due to the (federal) CARES Act funding" it has received. But the Department of the Treasury has issued explicit guidance prohibiting the use of federal Coronavirus relief funds for "workforce bonuses other than hazard pay or overtime." Nickelson is also adamant in his opinion that even if the state constitution allowed the city to give public employees bonuses, "we could not use CARES Act funding to do so."

"I will never do anything as a City Council member or as an elected official in any other office that I may hold in the future that I think is unlawful or unconstitutional," he concludes, "I just won't do it. If that makes me the Grinch...I hope that everybody that gets a paycheck from the City of Shreveport will still wish me Merry Christmas."


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