Prior to the start of its meeting Feb. 3, the Evangeline Parish Police Jury took their oaths of office to begin a new four-year term. All but one of the nine police jurors were reelected in last fall’s election. Thirteenth Judicial District Court Judge Gary Ortego, right, administers the oaths. From left, are police jurors Bryan Vidrine, Daniel Arvie, Keith Saucier, Ryan “LeDay” Williams, Kevin Veillon, Sidney Fontenot, Lamar Johnson, Ryan Ardoin, and Eric Soileau. (Gazette photo by Tony Marks)
Evangeline Parish jurors raise their pay
Tony Marks / Ville Platte Gazette
For the first time in 20 years, the Evangeline Parish Police Jury voted to give jurors a pay raise. With the pay increase, the jurors will now be paid $1,600 a month and the president will be paid an additional $400 a month.
The jury had been able to do so since June 21, 2008, when the state legislature granted approval to police juries across the state to increase their salaries. The police jury in Evangeline Parish had not done so until its meeting Feb. 3.
The increase, however, did not come without discussion.
During a public hearing on the proposed ordinance before the meeting, the jury heard from Donald Vidrine who lives in the Spring Prairie area and who ran for the police jury in last fall’s election.
Vidrine brought up the fact “the police jury proposed improving all the roads” at the time when it approved the 2% sales tax.
“I feel they have failed in their promises,” he exclaimed. “Promises were made, and promises were not kept. We still have many problems of drainage. I don’t know why you want to compensate yourselves when you still have a lot of work to do.”
The exchange between Vidrine and the police jury became animated and reached its crescendo when Vidrine stated, “Instead of worrying about compensation, let’s worry about the economy of our parish. That would help out a lot and build up our tax base.”
Vidrine concluded his remarks by saying, “When y’all vote on this, please check your heart and look in the mirror. Y’all have a part time job. I’m sure you have other jobs. Why you need $1,600 a month? I’m sure it’s good to have the money, but we can’t afford it. Finish doing what you promised to do.”
During the regular meeting, Juror Lamar Johnson stated on the issue, “Something needs to be addressed. As for as the time we spend in this room, we’re getting paid plenty.”
He continued, “If you look at the time and the expense we spend on the road, then that’s a different thing. Unless they want to start making it a voluntary deal, then we need to address 20 years of non-pay.”
Juror Eric Soileau, who represents Donald Vidrine’s district, stated, “I was not in favor of this when we brought it up probably 10 years ago. I have spoken to a lot of constituents who have talked to me about not doing this. There is still the perception we can’t do this or that because of money issues.”
“At this time,” he continued, “I cannot do this to those people who I promised I wouldn’t do that to. I am just one juror, but, at this time, I still cannot be in favor of this ordinance.”
Johnson then added, “It makes me no difference, but it ought to be thought about because it’s been 20 years since we had a pay raise.”
Juror Daniel Arvie made the motion for the pay raise. Voting in favor were jurors Bryan Vidrine, Arvie, Keith Saucier, Ryan “LeDay” Williams, Johnson, Ryan Ardoin, and Sidney Fontenot; voting against were jurors Soileau and Kevin Veillon.