Reconstructions
January
14, 2009

By Roger Emile Stouff

Interestingly, the St. Mary Parish Council will today consider a few revisions to the Home Rule Charter as recommended by their charter review panel.

Any revisions would have to be approved by parish voters to become law.

Some of the items include salaries.

It appears that the $12,000 salary for parish president has at last been seen as a detriment to finding good people to fill the position, at least since President Rogers left office. The new proposals are for a $36,000 a year part-time president, or $65,000 a year for a full-time head honcho.

Also, there are proposals to raise the salaries of single-member district councilmen from $450 a month to $700, and at-large members from $800 a month to $1,000.

First of all, itís ridiculous to have a $65,000 parish president and a $71,000 chief administrative officer. A $12,000 parish president is likewise silly. Iíd have voted for a $24,000 parish president, and might be willing to consider 36 grand for a full-timer. But a grand total of $136,000 in head honchos would be a slap in the face for the people of this parish, particularly those who donít play golf.

Likewise, I donít think parish councilmen deserve a raise at all. And I said the same thing about Franklin city councilmen a year or so ago, so you canít accuse me of bias (much).

Running for public office is a matter of service for councilmen. Mayors, parish presidents and such take on full-time jobs that necessitate competitive salaries. No raises for councilmen, I say. You do this to serve.

But since theyíll probably do it anyway, I would hope that the parish council grants council member raises in the same way they always divvy up the money in St. Mary Parish.

That means east-end single and at-large members would get $700 and $1,000 respectively, while west end members would get about $475 and $825 respectively. Thatís how we define equality in this parish, ainít it?

There is also a recommendation to stop council members from playing musical chairs with the council seats. See, all council members are restricted to two terms in their district, but in the past, all theyíve done is flip-flop between the single-member districts and the at-large. The proposal would make them sit out a term.

Finally, a proposition that makes sense.

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Enough of that.

Itís gratifying to see the reconstruction of Main Street begin. Yes, itís going to be a colossal pain in the posterior getting from one place to the next, and even worse for the business owners. But in the long run, driving on a smooth, resurfaced roadbed is going to be pure nirvana.

I was glad to see in the bids a note that every care should be taken to preserve whatís left of the old red brick curbing.

In fact, thatís something Iíve thought would be a great project some civic group could take on: Restoration of the missing brick curbs, from Sterling Road to the end of the boulevard. That would be downright awesome.

Itíd go far in restoring and enhancing the curb appeal Ė pardon the pun Ė downtown. Then, a reconstruction of the sidewalks (dare I wish for cobblestones or such?) would really put the icing on the proverbial cake.

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But then, I promised I wasnít going to continue trying to help those who wonít help themselves. Doesnít mean I canít throw out some bait every now and then, and see if anything bites. Thatís the easy part of fishing. Setting the hook is the hard part.