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Ponchatoula police, hit by impromptu strike last month, to lose 2 positions, chief says

3 days 22 hours 33 minutes ago Tuesday, June 11 2024 Jun 11, 2024 June 11, 2024 11:50 AM June 11, 2024 in News
Source: WBRZ

PONCHATOULA — The Ponchatoula police chief Bry Layrisson said Tuesday that the mayor Bob Zabbia and city council have adopted a budget that will cost his agency two positions. The move comes a month after some officers engaged in an impromptu strike.

"The morale has been down for quite some time. It's only going to get worse. All they want is to be respected and appreciated for the job they're doing and they feel that they're not," Layrisson said.

Chief Bry Layrisson said that the increases in his agency budget — $197,000 — will be offset by extra expenses. Required payments for city benefits such as health insurance, retirement benefits, workers compensation, holiday pay and other insurance will increase by $222,100. 

The chief said he received about six hours' notice Monday that an amended budget would leave him $25,100 short. When compared to the chief's proposed budget, the amended budget is down by $157,600.

"I had a feeling it was coming," he said in an interview.

Layrisson had been seeking a way to raise salaries for officers, some of whom protested low pay last month. 

"The mayor and city council passed a budget that defunded two previous officers' positions, placing our citizens at risk," the chief said in an email Tuesday. "The administration did so to provide the remaining officers with a 3% raise."

Layrisson said his agency has 31 fulltime employees and three part-timers. Two positions are vacant, including one that came open when police Cpl. Pricilla Pierson was found dead of natural causes in her patrol car in late May. He may need to rely on attrition to make his budget, he said.

Last month, Zabbia said Layrisson was responsible for how he spent the city police budget and complained that the chief wasn't spending money properly.

"Once the budget is passed, adopted and then sent to the chief, he administers it the way he sees fit," Zabbia told WBRZ in May.

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