An accounting oversight within the City of Minden has left one police sergeant with a reduction in pay and owing the city nearly $9,500.
Sgt. Ryan Barnette – a 7-year veteran of the department – addressed the city council at Monday’s meeting in an effort to make them aware of the matter.
“In January of 2012, I received a promotion from the position of Officer First Class to Sergeant. At that time, I received a pay increase – which I believed to be the appropriate pay increase for the promotion,” he said. “Three years later, I was informed there was an error in the payroll department and I owed the city almost $9,500.”
Barnette said Mayor Tommy Davis informed him earlier this year that he had been receiving $100 too much in each paycheck since the promotion.
In an effort to correct the oversight; he said his monthly pay was cut by $200 and the city asked him to pay back $75 a month for the next five years.
Barnette says he felt members of the city council were left in the dark about the error.
“I am here tonight to talk about this, not because I have a vendetta, but because I feel there are some council members that were not made aware of this problem,” he said. “I think it’s extremely negligent and downright disrespectful that some did not know about this situation.”
District B Councilwoman Fayrine Kennon-Gilbert, who is also chairmen of the personnel committee, says she was unaware of the problem.
“From a personnel standpoint, I did not know,” she said when asked of her knowledge of it.
Barnette questioned how the error could happen during a time when city funds are tight.
“We have a financial crisis in our city. Last year, did we not spend more money than we took in?” he asked. “Who else is being overpaid? Apparently I was for three years and we went through three city audits and this was never caught.”
Davis said after Monday’s meeting that he could not speak on personnel issues, but the problem had been addressed with the payroll clerk.
The payroll department falls under the City Clerk/Treasurer Michael Fluhr. He declined comment on the issue following the meeting.
Barnette is not the only member of the police department to be left with a tab owing the city.
He says at least five other officers have had to repay money they were overpaid.
A public records request of all current officers payroll information revealed that four officers’ pay had been adjusted and had to pay back overpaid payroll.
“We don’t make a lot of money doing what we do,” Barnette told the council. “I am not asking for you to pay me or my partners more money, but by God, you better be careful with what you do give us, because we need that money more than ever.”
He says he will not voluntarily allow the city to deduct money they say he owes from his paycheck.
“You’ll have to sue me and you will have to use taxpayers dollars to do it,” he said. “You’re going to have to fight for it.”
Davis declined comment on the situation and asked members of the council not to make comment, citing possible litigation between the two parties.
Ordinance No. 1062
The council unanimously voted to table Ordinance No. 1062 which would amend Chapter 78-3 of the city ordinances.
Davis told the council the city does not own many sidewalks and this will help them recoup the cost for repairs made.
“When we get those repaired and they belong to someone else we need a way to collect the money,” he said. “This gives us a right to put a lien on their property.”
Davis said the city usually pays 50 percent of the cost of the repair if approved by the city. Under the new ordinance, the cost the city picks up would be determined on a case-by-case basis.
A motion to table the ordinance was made by Kennon-Gilbert so the council could have a workshop on the proposed changes. District A Councilman Wayne Edwards seconded it.
Kennon-Gilbert said as a council – being a legislative body – they should have more input and be hands on with the formulation of the ordinances.
“If we are going to amend an ordinance, I would like for the council to sit down and discuss it,” she said following the meeting. “We need to know the details, why we are doing this and what are the repercussions or results of what would happen.”
Recognized National Night Out party hosts.
Authorized the mayor to declare property located at 419 Woodard St. condemned and order demolition of any structures within 45 days.
Granted access to city utilities to Anthony and Andreka Garner for property owned on Weston Street. Davis said the couple would have to pay outside city limit rates for water and sewer. He says the property is expected to be annexed into the city limits pending council approval at the December council meeting. Once annexed, the rate will change to the in-town rate.
Voted to abandon an alley that runs between Sibley Road and Railroad Avenue. Davis said the city has never used the ally and there are no city utilities on it. He said the land would go to Steve Wilson who owns the land on both sides of it.
Adopted Ordinance No. 1061 – Accepting the dedication of water main and easement from Glenbrook School.
Adopted a resolution for municipal water pollution prevention.
Adopted a resolution to allow the mayor to execute an agreement with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development for improvements at the Minden Airport. Davis said the improvements will be water and sewer related and paid for by LADOTD.
Approved the monthly police report.