LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The Lake Charles City Council and city officials went into executive session to discuss contract negotiations with the Lake Charles Firefighter and Police unions. While no decisions were made in the closed door meeting, it's what happened later in the open meeting that took some council members by surprise.
In a letter the Lake Charles Firefighters Union is requesting the City Council put an item on the November 2012 ballot that would support a firefighter pay raise. Council members received the following letter Tuesday before the meeting.
---- We are asking for the City Council's approval to move for a millage proposition that would support a fire fighter pay increase. The total amount of taxable property for 2010 was $501,064,270 according to the Calcasieu Tax Assessor's Office. This includes commercial and residential. The City of Lake Charles's current millage rate is 15.35 mils. The City received $7,691,336.54 in property tax for that year. A single mil generates slightly more than$500,000 annually.
We do not have exact figures at this time regarding what size millage would be needed to cover the 20% pay increase that we are seeking. We will discuss, during negotiations tomorrow, what is to be covered within the millage, i.e., pay increase, new hires, etc. I have received some figures from Mrs. Harrell but have not yet had the opportunity to verify them. Our best guess for a millage would be somewhere between 3.3 and right under 5, depending on what is agreed upon.
We are asking for the Council's approval to go forward with the millage proposition on the November 2012 ballot. ----
After reading the letter and hearing the union's request the Council could not support putting it on next week's regular meeting agenda for further discussion.
"You and I have had discussions about this stuff. There were a lot of variables that were missing. We think there still are some variables that are missing. Who is going to pay for the election? The exact impact of the tax? I think we each have a lot of questions and concerns before we can support this at this time," said John Ieyoub, LC City Council President.
"At this point this is the only viable solution for both sides. I know I may be speaking on behalf of the city but it's been somewhat indicated to me from their side as well," said Will Veuleman, LC Fire Fighter Union 561 President.
No one on the council supported putting the item on next week's agenda. The negotiations are ongoing.