AG says Baker police chief salary difference does not violate consitution
BAKER –The difference in pay between the current and previous Baker police chiefs does not violate the state constitution, according to an attorney general's opinion.
Harold Rideau, who was mayor at the time of the election, requested the opinion after complaints that the new chief was being treated unfairly.
Police Chief Carl Dunn has said the plan that has led to his being paid less than prior chief Mike Knaps is unfair. The council voted to give him a raise, but Rideau vetoed it in his last few hours in office.
His pay was set at $62,000. At the time he left office, Knaps was paid more than $93,000.
Those salaries were determined on a pay scale adopted by the city council in 2001. Unlike Knapps’ salary, which was based on his 35 years at the position, Dunn’s salary was at the bottom of the scale. He did not work for Baker Police prior to his election.
The attorney general's opinion was that the pay scale was adopted by the council and is therefore the governing document for such matters. The state constituion bars reducing the salary of an elected official after he takes office. The pay scale does not violate that provision, according to the attorney general's office.
An attorney general's opinion does not have the force of law but is often used as a guideline unless a court finds differently.
When the council voted to raise the chief’s starting salary, Rideau said he was not sure if the city was allowed to do so after the election. He then reached out to Landry’s office.
Rideau said the city could not affor a pay raise for Dunn.
Dunn said he would be on the job regardless of the outsome but wants what he is due.
Read Landry’s complete opinion here.