- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 12, 2015

GRETNA, La. (AP) - Gretna officials say the city’s booming economy may allow for a 29 percent salary increase for Mayor Belinda Constant and Police Chief Arthur Lawson. The pay raises would be the first for the city’s mayor and police chief in eight years.

City officials say the salaries for Constant and Lawson would be raised to $90,000 from the $70,000 they currently make annually pending a meeting to discuss the pay boost this week, Nola.com/The Times-Picayune reports (https://bit.ly/1H0eq5D ).

City council members will introduce an ordinance addressing the pay issue at a meeting Wednesday but won’t take action or discuss the plan until June.

The salary increases were initiated by city council to support executives expanded responsibilities as Gretna enjoys unprecedented economic growth.

Gretna is the second-largest city and parish seat in Jefferson Parish. The city of over 17,000 is on the west bank of the Mississippi River, just across the river from uptown New Orleans.

Constant took office in 2013. Since then she has worked on a $50 million hotel-commercial development, pushed the $13 million revitalization of a blighted bowling alley site, brought back paid parking and bus service to downtown and advocated tourism. Meanwhile, the police department is undergoing a $4.4 million modernization of its facility.

“We’re certainly in competition in terms of economic growth and safety,” Councilman Wayne Rau said. “You have to reward the people responsible for that. We’re seeing economic growth in the city, the result of hard work and a lot of hours. The chief has kept us on the cutting edge of technology and safety.”

In setting the proposed new salaries, Rau says he looked at cities comparable to Gretna.

City council also boosted the salaries of its employees in the 2015-16 budget, including 6 percent raises for uniformed, post-certified police officers and 3 percent hikes for other staff.


Information from: The Times-Picayune, https://www.nola.com

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