The Red River Parish Police Jury voted on Wednesday to increase the pay of Jurors to $1,600.00 per month. There was opposition to the increase from several parish residents who questioned the timing and other reasons for the raise.
Resident Joy Cannon questioned the timing of the raise. Cannon said, “The timing bothers me the most. You just got in for four years. I would like it better if it came at the end of your term. You were just reelected for four years and one of the first orders of business is to increase your compensation.”
Questions raised by Cannon included what did the Jurors do for the current $1,200.00 a month salary? Cannon said, “Many workers in the parish are working for minimum wage. The current $14,400.00 annual salary is only a bit less than many minimum wage workers. A $100.00 a month raise would mean that police jurors make more than minimum wage workers.”
Jury President Shawn Beard answered that the state set the wage at $1,600.00 a month but this parish has not enacted that raise. Beard said, “We get no compensation for gas, mileage, and other expenses of doing the job. We’ve stayed away from the available raise. Red River is the only parish that has not enacted the raise.”
Beard and other members of the jury stated that they do much more than just attending monthly meetings. Juror Jessie Davis said, “You are a juror 365 days a year. People want to talk to jurors at any time, at church or the grocery store. There are no set hours. Your day never stops. You cannot calculate the wage per hour because you are always a juror.”
Cannon said, “We are a poor parish. We lost dumpster service. But we are no longer a poor parish due to oil and gas, but this service has not been restored.”
Beard replied, “We presented a one percent sales tax for roads and trash to voters, but it was voted down. As a consequence, residents have to make arrangements for their own trash pickup. We really do understand your concerns but where does the money come from?” Beard added, “The Jury gets no millage tax. The only money we get is a one percent sales tax. There are lots of required expenses, so the last thing we can spend money on is roads and trash.”
Juror Brandon Hillman explained, “Millage and tax dollars are set for a specific use. We cannot use for anything else. Even though one agency has a surplus, it cannot be reallocated. We are looking at reallocating taxes, but it may require a vote of the people to do it.”
After the discussion in the committee meeting, the Police Jury in regular session voted unanimously to increase the salary of jury members to $1,600.00 a month.