JEANERETTE — The Jeanerette Board of Aldermen discussed giving raises to the city’s dispatchers after Alderman Clarence Clark extended the agenda to discuss the topic.
Clark said that Jeanerette’s dispatchers not only work for the Jeanerette Police Department, but also take calls for the Jeanerette City Marshal’s Office and Jeanerette Public Works Department and takes calls after City Hall closes on Fridays.
The dispatchers also only make about $8 per hour.
“Our young ladies do more work than any law enforcement agency within a 50 mile radius, and they are the lowest paid,” Clark said.
After talking to other law enforcement agencies in the Teche Area, Clark said Jeanerette’s dispatchers are “totally underpaid” for the amount of work that they do.
“Our dispatchers work 84 hours and only make $8 an hour,” Clark said. “After taxes some barely bring home $320 every two weeks. We have a serious issue.”
The alderman hoped that the board would find a way to give a pay increase to the dispatchers.
Mayor Carol Bourgeois Jr. said that he “wholeheartedly agreed” with Clark, and said that he even advocated for the dispatchers when departments were on the chopping block during Jeanerette’s fiscal administration.
However, Bourgeois said that any raise for city employees should be done uniformly for all employees, and it should also be sustainable.
“I’ve had discussions with our budget director to look at how we can do this uniformly,” Bourgeois said. “When our funds look stronger and better, hopefully we can give a raise to all our employees.”
Clark said that the board of aldermen has the power to amend the budget, and something had to be done.
“For six years I’ve been advocating a raise for these young ladies, and we lose good dispatchers to other places,” Clark said. “We train them and they go somewhere else with our experience.”
Bourgeois said he wouldn’t dismiss the idea, and Alderman Louis Lancon said the request should go before the finance committee.
“The time to look at this is March because we already put the budget in place,” Lancon said. “We can amend but March is really when you dig down deep and look at the numbers.”