Rost, who has served as chief since first elected as police chief in 1982, will see his pay increase to $31,000, up from $27.886.08.
Aldermen Gary Villien and Darin Desormeaux voted in favor, with Alderwoman Phyllis Johnson, who made the motion for the vote, voting against. Rost requested his pay be increased to $35,000 during a regular meeting in June.
Wednesday’s final vote came after discussion from the council, including hearing questions and comments during a public hearing early during the meeting.
“I would like to ask the council to support this raise for the chief,” local business owner Nick Barber said during the public hearing. “Anybody who manages five full-time employees must make their job a full-time job as well. And the department seems to run well. I have dealt with them a few times recently, as well as calling the chief at night to handle a situation at a near by business.
“I believe that the job is being done.”
Johnson made a motion to set Rost’s pay at $35,000. The motion did not receive a second and died. Villien offered a counter.
“I looked at some of the figures,” Villien said. “I would like to see it at $31,000.”
“In did some research and talked to our accounting firm,” Desormeaux said. “With the projections that were given to me, I am closer to Mr. Villien’s number than Mrs. Johnson’s.
“It’s simply for budgeting purposes.”
Desormeaux motioned for the $31,000 salary, as well as the Aug. 1 date, to which Villien seconded. Another citizen asked why not $35,000?
“I think this is the first time (the chief) has ever asked for a raise,” the man told the council. “Why?”
“If we increased the police chief’s salary to $35,000,” Desormeaux said, “we would have a surplus of $7,900 annually, from which the mayor’s salary and other expenses have to come.
“I feel that if we went to $35,000, we would be operating too close to the red.”
As for the question of the chief being paid less than the assistant chief (Guy Nerren’s salary is $34,456.80), Desormeaux said that example is not exclusive to the police department.
“The mayor of Maurice makes $12,000 (a year),” Desormeaux said. “He oversees every employee of the village, which really includes police officers. The chief is the supervisor, but at the end of the day, the mayor is the head of the village.
“And he makes $12,000.”
The council did vote later in the meeting to discuss giving Mayor Wayne Theriot a raise. That issue, to which Theriot said he did not request, will be on the agenda for August 15 meeting.
“But he will still be paid lower than anyone that is employed by him,” Desormeaux said.
One citizen asked Villien and Desormeaux how they valued the chief’s job that comes with such high possible risk.
“How much money would it be for them to put their lives on the line like our police officers?,” she said.
Villien said that is not something he would try to put number to.
“I come from the private sector,” Villien answered. “I chose not to become a policeman. I’m not going to put a value on someone’s life. As far as I am concerned, Warren’s priceless, just as every person is priceless.
“I don’t think it’s fair to ask to put a value on someone’s life.”
Villien said the decision is strictly financial.
“I know Warren has been with the village for a long time,” Villien said. “It all comes down to money. Right now the village is tight in some areas.
“There’s nothing against Warren. As far as I am concerned, we have worked with him. We just bought two brand-new vehicles.”
Rost said he felt the situation surrounding the department warranted the request.
“I’m tired of begging,” Rost said. “But the public needs to know that the police department was well in the black last year. My job is not determined by the hands of a clock. The police department, because of me scrimping and scraping, is trying to save money for the village. The guys ask me for things and I tell them it can go another month.
“Every year that I have been the head of this department, the police department has made money for the village.”