Salaries set for Gonzales mayor, police chief

Wade McIntyre

The Gonzales City Council established salaries for its newly elected mayor and police chief that are among the highest in Louisiana for a city its size.

At the meeting Monday, councilmen unanimously approved and annual salary of $95,400 for Mayor Barney Arceneaux and $86,530 for Police Chief Sherman Jackson.

Councilman Ronald “Joe” Waguespack said the mayor pay range is the highest in Gonzales city government, rated at 26 on the city scale. Within that range are seven levels that determine the actual salary, he said.

Councilmen voted to set Arceneaux’s salary at the fourth level, which will leave him three more merit pay increments.

Jackson was also approved at level 4, and will have three more merit increments as well. His pay scale is as police chief is 24.

Waguespack said the council took into consideration years of service when it chose the levels of pay. Both Arceneaux and Jackson have worked a number of years in city government. Arceneaux is a former city police chief, and Jackson is a veteran in that department.

For a city the size of Gonzales, the salary level is probably tops in the state, and one of the highest in the country, Waguespack said.

“We get good people and they are inclined to stay,” Waguespack said. “I’m very proud we can pay that.”

In other business, City Clerk Clay Stafford said the city planned to begin self-insuring comprehensive and collision of its fleet of small vehicles in a move to save money, and councilmen approved the shift.

The city will pay itself $40,000 for the insurance, then pay all claims with the money saved by dropping its private insurer, Stafford said.

Liability insurance for the self-insured vehicles will be continued under a private insurer, he said.

Also, large vehicles will continue to be insured under a private carrier.

Stafford said he had considered self-insurance in the past, and finally decided it would be best for city after a recent rate increase was announced.

He said self-insurance would work based on claims that the city paid out in the past. He noted that the city does not have to pay for accidents or wrecked vehicles when the city is not at fault.

In an unrelated matter, Stafford said city had been able to pay for over $440,000 of Hurricane Gustav debris removal for approximately $23,967 through grants obtained with the help of the Office of Emergency Preparedness, and by piggybacking into the parish debris removal program for a time early in the cleanup effort.

The council also authorized signing a cooperative endeavor agreement with the DOTD for a $250,000 grant (minus five percent or $12,500 eliminated in the governors recent budget cuts) to be used for turn lane work in the city.

Waguespack noted that the city had begun spending money for the work even though it was on state roads, and that it was “good we get some grant monies to offset” that work.