Council, President In Pay Raise Squabble

CHALMETTE, LA (AP) — With little fanfare beyond a quick reading of the proposed language, the St. Bernard Parish Council on Tuesday took steps to limit the authority of parish President David Peralta, drawing a strong rebuke from the parish leader who threatened to veto one of the two measures.

         The New Orleans Advocate’s Richard Thompson reported the council approved an ordinance freezing salary increases for St. Bernard employees and directing Peralta to produce a record of pay raises implemented during the past six months. A second, related measure would halt new hires for six months without a vote of the council.

         Peralta said he probably would veto the ordinance that prohibits raises, saying he believes opinions from the Louisiana attorney general's office show council members are "overstepping their authority."

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         In order to keep skilled workers on the parish's payroll, Peralta said he sometimes must pay more because salaries in St. Bernard government often are lower than in neighboring parishes.

         Peralta has 10 days to sign or veto the ordinances. The Parish Council can override a veto with a vote of at least two-thirds of the members of the full council, or five votes.

         Peralta did not attend Tuesday's council meeting. He said he had a doctor appointment.

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         It's the second consecutive council meeting Peralta missed, both coming after he was indicted in September by a state grand jury on a charge of stalking his ex-wife.

         Another grand jury issued a sexual battery charge against him in April in connection with a 2013 incident involving his former wife. Peralta has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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