Provision that would have made council clerk more like executive assistant, equal in pay stripped from ordinance
Measure adds $744,172 to operating budget — 5.5% increase
Vast majority receive 10-40% bumps in pay
Officials cite recent salary survey, retention, recruitment concerns for system overhaul
City streamlines 30 pay steps down to 25
Mayor says last extensive pay increase was 2015
Raises to hit paychecks in late March
Police salary budget increases 10.26%
Sewer Dept. sees biggest percent change at 15.18% to address recruitment issues
Updated 2/13/2022 at 1:09 PM: Adds references to Kreller and Scherer in eighth and 10th paragraphs.
MANDEVILLE — The City Council adopted measures Thursday that will give police and civil service employees significant across-the-board raises as part of a broader effort to bring Mandeville in line with the surrounding market in attracting and keeping workers.
The changes stem from a comprehensive market salary survey contracted last year by Mayor Clay Madden and the City Council, which revealed that Mandeville was lagging behind nearby municipalities and area employers in its basic pay scales, which hadn’t been significantly updated since 2015.
One of the main takeaways from the report, conducted by SSA Consultants of Baton Rouge, is that by position, Mandeville’s entry-level pay — especially for police — is consistently below that of other municipalities and entities in the market region, including Covington, Slidell, Hammond, Tangipahoa Parish and the Louisiana State Police.
The raises will add $744,127, including benefits, to the city operating budget — a 5.5-percent increase — and streamlines Mandeville’s pay scales from 30 to 25.
Eighty-three of the roughly 100 employees — both police and civil service — will receive raises ranging from 10 to 40 percent, with only a handful above or below that range.
The overhaul was enacted via three ordinances — one to address the Mandeville Police Department, a second to address civil service employees, and a third to adjust the operating budget in order to pay for the raises.
The civil service pay change ordinance caused a minor dust-up during the meeting and the council had to scramble to amend the ordinance so that the civil service raises wouldn’t be held up.
Some on the council felt Ordinance 22-03 contained a so-called “poison pill” because it proposed a 38 percent pay raise for Council Clerk Kristine Scherer, who is not a civil service employee. The ordinance was introduced by Councilman at Large Rick Danielson, but sources say District II Councilman Skelly Kreller was involved in getting Scherer’s proposed raise included in the measure.
District III Councilwoman Jill McGuire offered an amendment to strip out the raise for Scherer, which would have put her at almost equal pay to Mayor Clay Madden’s Executive Assistant Trilby Lenfant, taking Scherer from $60,139 to $83,139. Lenfant is paid $83,827 after she received about a $10,000 raise last year.
Sources told Mandeville Daily that Scherer is unhappy with her pay and believes that her current role is more akin to the executive assistant than a clerk.
Scherer handles all City Council day-to-day operations, including intra-council communications, scheduling, publishing agendas, ordinances, and resolutions, researching city code and the home rule charter, among other duties. She also acts as the recorder and parliamentarian at council meetings.
Council members expressed strong support for Scherer during Thursday’s meeting, but stopped short of voting against McGuire’s amendment to remove the council clerk’s raise. The amendment passed unanimously despite Danielson and Kreller expressing support for the raise remaining part of the ordinance.
Kreller argued that even though 38 percent is a large raise, a handful a civil service and police employees will receive raises greater than 40 percent, and it wouldn’t be fair to single Scherer out by not including her in this pay scale overhaul.
Danielson said of Scherer, “I don’t know the perfect way to do this because of the process that we’ve gone through. I can justify all day a raise to our clerk based off of experience, based off of years, based off of scale, based off of all those things.”
But McGuire said that she is not opposed to considering a raise for Scherer but that such a raise is a separate and different issue than the civil service pay raises and should not have been tied to them.
“There’s a lot of things that have come up… a lot of comparisons… There’s questions of should the council clerk be considered as an executive assistant. I feel that is a discussion that should be held at a different time,” McGuire said.
Councilman at Large Jason Zuckerman agreed with McGuire, saying that a raise for Scherer was not a recommendation that came from the salary survey committee.
Madden formed a salary survey committee which met four times in December to hammer out details for the pay scale changes before making recommendations back to the mayor and the council as a whole. Zuckerman and Danielson both served on that committee along with others, including police and civil service representatives.
“I was on the salary survey committee… And we really didn’t discuss this (Scherer’s raise). This proposal … is not really coming to the council with a recommendation that came out of the salary survey committee,” Zuckerman said.
“I can support a raise all day long… Ms. Scherer has tremendous worth to the city and the City Council,” he added.
Former City Councilman Ernest Burguières made a brief presentation to the council during the public comment session that covered what he believed where a number of potential issues with the raises.
Burguières said he felt the salary survey was “a good starting point” but that it did contain some “flaws.” His main objection was that he believes the process largely bypassed public feedback and questioning of the survey’s author, SSA Consultants.
He also said that the pay raises were weighted heavily toward existing employees versus entry-level workers.
Burguières also cautioned that this increase to the budget could eventually burn through city surpluses.
After Scherer’s proposed raise was stripped from the measure, the civil service pay ordinance along with the police pay ordinance and the budget adjustment ordinance were adopted unanimously.
Finance Director Kathleen Sides told the council the raises should hit paychecks in the second half of March.