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Touchet suggests raises for chief of police, mayor

It has been 12 years since the mayor and chief of police in Abbeville have received raises.
That could soon change for the two positions, both of which are elected.
On Tuesday, during a discussion on the upcoming budget at the regular Abbeville City Council meeting, Councilman Francis Touchet Jr. brought up providing pay increases for the mayor and chief of police.
“This is not something where I want to address it right now,” Touchet said during the meeting, “but I want to put it out for the rest of the council and the public to understand.”
Included in the budget for 2020 will be raises for all members of the Abbeville Fire Department, Abbeville Police Department and full-time municipal employees that will be funded from the half-cent sales tax voters passed in May. Touchet said that when those raises are implemented, it will push some salaries higher than those of Mayor Mark Piazza and Chief of Police William Spearman.
“They cannot get paid with the tax,” Touchet said of the mayor and chief. “Those two men are going to get paid a lot less than some employees.”
Their current salaries, $67,000 for the mayor and $61,000 for chief of police, are also less than other cities in Louisiana with similar populations, Touchet said. Abbeville currently has a population of 12,300. For example, with a population of 13,965, Baker in East Baton Rouge Parish has salary of $91,009 for police chief and $77,000 for mayor.
Touchet did not present any
official numbers for proposed increases. He did say that he would like to see Spearman’s salary be in line with Abbeville Fire Chief Jude Mire’s $80,000. Mire’s salary would increase to $86,000 with the projected raises given to the fire department.
“I am going to request that we look at this when we talk about the new budget,” Touchet said. “Again, this will not come from funds that were passed.”
Touchet said he feels those in leadership roles should have salaries that reflect those positions.
“Anyone who is a CEO of a company needs to have some separation from (salaries) of other employees,” Touchet said. “If we just go on (raises for employees) and don’t address the mayor and chief, that is not a fair practice. We could have some people making $20,000 more than the mayor and $30,000 more than the chief.
“I will request that we look into taking up the mayor and police chief salary, coming outside of this tax, from the general fund.”
Piazza did not make a request for a raise. He said Wednesday morning that he feels Spearman is deserving of an increase.
“For elected officials,” Piazza said, “those raises can only be given by the council. The chief and I don’t receive annual raises. That raise I received 12 years ago was the first received in 18 years as Mayor. I will be the first to admit that our chief is drastically underpaid.”
As for the fire chief’s salary, Piazza pointed out that it is an appointed position and falls under Civil Service.
“He is included in the state-mandated annual cost-of-living raises that fire and police get every year,” Piazza said.

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