JENNINGS – Whoever is elected the next mayor will get a substantial pay raise due to action by the city council.

During a special meeting Tuesday, the council unanimously voted to increase the next mayor’s salary by 15 percent, or $10,000 annually.

The raise will push the mayor’s annual salary from $65,000 to $75,000 beginning with the next mayor’s term.

If Mayor Henry Guinn is reelected to a second four-year term, it would be his first pay increase.

The mayor’s salary was last raised in 2012 when then mayor Terry Duhon’s salary was increased from $52,000 to $65,000.

The city’s Certified Public Accountant Greg Marcantel said the increase is comparable to mayor’s salaries in the surrounding area - including Rayne, Crowley, Westlake, DeRidder and Eunice - which range from $70,000 to $79,000.

In other matters, the council approved a new $13 million budget beginning July 1.

The budget includes a 2 percent pay raise for all full-time city employees, along with a 5 percent rate hike for water and sewer and a 2 percent increase for trash collection.

Guinn said the budget reflects a projected 15 percent loss in sales tax revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When planning for the budget we did not have a picture of what our revenue forecast was going to be, but with the help of our CPA Greg Marcantel we came up with the 15 percent reduction in sales tax revenue and we based all of our numbers off that,” he said.

The city is expected to end the current fiscal year with over $16 million cash on hand, which includes paying for all completed projects.

The budget also includes $2.6 million in capital improvement projects include $800,000 for the completion of the installation of new electronic water meters and $600,000 for a drainage improvement project from LA 97 to Sherman Street. Additional expenses will include $530,000 for a new fire truck, $500,000 for street improvements, $300,000 for a new lime silo for the water treatment plant and $75,000 for improvements to Franklin Park.

“We are very confident that these projects will continue,” Guinn said. “We do not have to lay anybody off and everything in Jennings will remain the same as the people of Jennings know it.”

In other matters, residents will pay more for water, sewer and trash service under a measure approved by the council.

Under the water rate increase, residents and businesses inside the city limits would pay a basic rate of $14.35 a month for the first 2,000 gallons of water used and $17.30 for residences located outside the city and $19.15 for businesses located outside the city. The charges are reduced further as more water and sewer services are used.

Rates for sewer would increase to $23.91 for the first 2,000 gallons for businesses inside the city and $28.64 for businesses located outside the city.

Residences located outside the city would pay $17.75 for the first 2,000 gallons.

Silverwood residents and businesses would see slightly higher bills, with residential rates at $34.51 and commercial rates at $57.52 for the first 2,000 gallons.

Guinn said the increase in water rates will equate to about 3-cents a day or $1 per month for most costumers.

“This was something we felt was absolutely necessary because of the increase cost for water treatment operations, lime, chlorine, etc. and daily operations and repairs,” Guinn said.

Residents and businesses will see a new monthly rate of $19.48 for weekly trash service as part of the annual increase in consumer price index.

An additional $3 will be charged to commercial, industrial or institutional establishments with hand pickup generating no more than three 96-gallon containers, once a week.

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