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CAHS bosses get fat raises, none for workers

3 years 6 months 3 weeks ago November 01, 2013 Nov 1, 2013 Friday, November 01 2013 November 01, 2013 7:34 AM in The Investigative Unit
Source: WBRZ
By: Chris Nakamoto

BATON ROUGE - The top two leaders of the Capital Area Human Services District received sizable raises over the past few years, while claiming there was no money for their 200 employees to get them.

The organization has been operating with more than $2.4 million dollars less than it had last year. CAHS provides social and other behavioral health services for seven parishes in our area. Tonight, questions remain about why the organization's top two in command were the only ones who received raises.

Executive Director Jan Kasofsky and Deputy Director Carol Nacoste lead the organization. Over the past two years, Kasofsky said her organization couldn't pay for raises for her 200 employees. That information is detailed on letters she sent to the state two years in a row.

The letter "requests the approval to implement a layoff avoidance measure of withholding performance adjustments for all employees statewide."

However, salary documents the News 2 Investigative Unit obtained show Director Kasofsky and Deputy Director Nacoste accepted fat raises during the time the organization was cash strapped. 

"You should not accept a merit increase on an ethical standpoint or moral compass," one employee who did not want to be identified said. "There's something terribly wrong with accepting a merit increase when you have 200 plus employees who have not had a merit increase in years."

We disguised the identity of this employee at their request for fear of retaliation.

"If you speak with them, then you will be targeted," the employee said. "If you complain, you are targeted."

While employees salaries have stayed the same over the past few years, their bosses salaries continue to balloon. In 2011, Executive Director Jan Kasofsky earned $168,646. Now, she makes $189,467. That's a raise of about $21,000.

In 2011, Deputy Director Carol Nacoste earned $126,422. Now, she earns $142,043. That's more than a $15,000 raise.

News 2 requested a sit down interview with Kasofsky about this issue. She said no, so we caught up with her as she was leaving work.

"Can you tell us why you and your deputy director were the only ones who received raises at Capital Area," Chief Investigator Chris Nakamoto asked Kasofsky.

"You can talk to my board," Kasofsky said. "The process is they would be the ones that would make that decision."

"Even though you submitted a letter saying the agency had no money," Nakamoto responded. 

"Excuse me," Kasofsky said as she shut the door of her car and quickly drove off.

News 2 started calling board members who are appointed by the governor. One told us he wasn't aware the agency withheld raises from employees at the time the board approved Kasofsky's raise. He and several other board members referred all questions to Board President Vickie King.

News 2 also requested a sit down interview with Ms. King about the raises. We were told through the agency's public relations firm that King had declined our offer. So, we caught up with King as she left work, to give her an opportunity to explain the board's decision.

"Was the board aware she (Kasofsky) submitted letters to the state saying that the agency had no money for raises," Nakamoto asked King.

"Sir, I've given you a statement, and you can use what was provided to you," King said.

"But, that statement didn't answer any of our questions," Nakamoto responded.

"If you wanted other answers send us your questions in writing," King said as she quickly pulled away from Channel 2 cameras.

As the board avoided our questions, so did Kasofsky. It sheds light into why some employees believe more oversight needs to be brought to an organization that spends your tax money.

It's important to note about 40 employees received salary increases over the past two years in the form of promotions. However, that is not the same as a raise.

News 2 requested interviews with Kasofsky and Ms. King after both women were interviewed at their cars. We never heard back, but two days ago King issued a letter to all CAHS employees stating the board was proud of their decision to give Kasofsky a raise. King blamed the legislature for not allocating enough money for employee raises.

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