- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 12, 2016

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A federal judge says the sheriff in New Orleans cannot raise deputies’ pay without the city government’s approval.

Monday’s ruling was a victory for Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration. City officials and Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman have been at odds for years over the costs of court-ordered reforms at the jail.

The city funds the jail. The sheriff runs it.

U.S. district Judge Lance Africk’s ruling came in response to the city’s argument that Gusman does not have unilateral authority to increase salaries for his deputies by $7 million a year.

While ruling in favor of the city, Africk again told leaders on both sides of the jail funding issues they need to work together to implement reforms at the jail.



Africk agreed with the city that, under New Orleans’ home rule charter, the sheriff must submit detailed financial data to the city.

“The Court agrees with the City that the Sheriff must comply and cooperate with the budgetary requirements of the Home Rule Charter, and the Court agrees with the Sheriff that the City must provide funding for the jail,” Africk wrote. “Nothing cited by the parties suggests that the City must rubber-stamp the Sheriff’s budget; but neither can the City defund or under-fund the jail. As with so many other issues in this litigation, the devil will be in the details.”

Court-ordered reforms underway at the jail are the result of a lawsuit filed by inmates and the Justice Department.

Inmates were moved last year to a new $150 million facility, remedying problems posed by the old, unsanitary and insecure jail complex. But disagreements persist over various issues. They include funding for more personnel and arguments over whether the new facility should be renovated to provide space for the mentally ill or whether another facility is needed.

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