Marshal Brian Pope earns $200,000, charges legal fees to taxpayers, wants money for cars, raises

Lafayette City Marshal Brian Pope speaks during a press conference at the City Marshal's Office in downtown Lafayette in October. (Photo: Advertiser file photo)

(The Daily Advertiser) – City Marshal Brian Pope earned $227,638 in 2016, one of the highest salaries in city government.

He spent $337,781 this year in taxpayer money on legal fees and to pay a settlement to The Ind news organization, which sued him for violating the Louisiana Public Records Law.

Now, Pope wants Lafayette Consolidated Government to give his office an extra $170,000 for four new automobiles and nearly $6,000 so he can give his secretary and an office administrator raises.

Pope made the requests in May as LCG administrators prepare annual budgets for the 2017-18 fiscal year that begins Nov. 1.

Mayor-President Joel Robideaux is scheduled to present the LCG budget proposals to the city-parish council Aug. 1.

The city marshal’s budget will be reviewed at 1 p.m. Aug. 17 in the council auditorium at City Hall, 705 W. University Ave. The public is invited to attend.

The City Marshal’s Office was budgeted $1.7 million in 2016-17 from the city of Lafayette. In his 2017-18 budget request, Pope seeks an additional $182,246. Most of the money LCG provides goes to salaries and benefits.

Most of the increase, $170,000, is to retire and replace three automobiles with two full-size and one mid-size units with emergency equipment. A fourth mid-size unit that was involved in an accident that wasn’t the fault of the driver would also be replaced, Pope wrote in his request. That’s $40,000 each for the mid-size vehicles and $45,000 for the full-size vehicles.

Pope is requesting another $17,361 for raises for five employees. The marshal’s executive secretary with 33 years on the job would receive a 6.5 percent raise, $2,859 a year, and the office administrator who has 15 years on the job would receive a 6.5 percent pay raise, $2,935 a year.

Three people holding deputy city marshal III positions would be promoted to new positions, marshal IV, created for those with 15 or more years on the job. One person with 21 years would receive a $2,966 raise, 4.8 percent, and two with 17 years on the job would receive 5.2 percent raises, $3,054 each per year.

Pope also is asking to hire two people because of the “growing workload of the office and security of city court and staff,” he wrote in his budget proposal.

According to a 2015-16 audit, Pope’s compensation,  benefits and other payments totaled $227,638, or $18,970 a month. Lafayette Utilities System Director Terry Huval earns $256,623 a year, but he has an engineering degree and supervises about 500 employees. Pope supervises around 23 full-time employees.

In 2015-16, the city paid Pope $86,520, according to the audit. Benefits like insurance and retirement compensation brought that to $96,917.

Pope received another $6,000 in supplemental pay from the state of Louisiana, along with funds for travels, conferences and registration.

What really bumps the city marshal’s pay is the $84,811 in civil fees paid by Lafayette City Court, according to the audit, for things like serving eviction notices and subpoenas.

Pope also pocketed $36,066 last year from garnishments. According to a May 19 story in The Ind, Pope’s office keeps 6 percent of the garnishments it collects. Pope told The Ind he shares the money with an employee who completes the garnishment process paperwork.

His percentage of garnishments and collection of civil fees account for more than $120,000 of Pope’s salary.

According to The Ind, Pope may be breaking the law by keeping that money. They cite a Nov. 29, 2011, Louisiana Attorney General opinion that states city marshals, with the exception of those in Lafayette and Shreveport, may supplement salaries with those fees.

Pope did not return a call for comment on this story.

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