Current administration’s take on Matassa $27K raise

Matassa (left) and Clint Cointment days after the 2015 election.

According to The Advocate former Ascension president, Kenny Matassa, received a one-time, lump sum payment of $30,228 representing back pay for the the last 14 months of his disgraceful tenure.  Supposedly, a change to the parish’s Pay Plan and “separate salary supplements…boosted Matassa’s annual pay by 18.6%, from $148,000 to $175,456 per year in the final two months of his term.”  Why it was applied retroactively, well…because Matassa operated the most corrupt administration in Ascension’s quarter-century of Home Rule.

NOTE:  The raise would also increase this miscreant’s retirement.

At the same meeting when the Council adopted the Pay Plan there was another ordinance enacted which…

August 16, 2018 Parish Council meeting minutes

established the parish president’s salary “at One Dollar ($1.00) above the salary of the highest salary” of Ascension’s Sheriff, Assessor, and Clerk of Court “effective on January 1, 2020.”  Since 2013 the president’s salary had been $148,000 paid from several sources; $100,000 from the General Fund, supplemented by two drainage and multiple utilities districts.

The Pay Plan established salary ranges for every position…

including that of “Parish President” which was assigned a “Labor Grade” of 138, the highest of any position.  The corresponding salary range is between $127,456 (minimum) and $179,667 (maximum), within which Matassa’s $148,000 comfortably fit.  His $27,456 raise is the largest received by any parish employee during Matassa’s tenure, even bigger than…

Parish President’s brother pockets $15,000 raise

Which begs the question; who decided that Matassa was entitled to a raise at all?  It certainly was not based on merit.  The raise also violates Ascension’s Home Rule Charter, Section 3-02 of which states: “The governing authority may change the salary of the president by ordinance but not during the last year of the president’s term in office.”

Council Chairwoman Teri Casso is pleading ignorance.  So is Matassa who put the onus on Parish Attorney O’Neil Parenton.

“When this came up, I said give it to O’Neil and I said, ‘Whatever’s legal is legal,’ and that’s what happened. That’s as much as I know,” Matassa told The Advocate.

What about Matassa’s successor?  A prepared statement from the current administration was released on Monday:

“If it is found that any money was paid out improperly, the Parish will pursue all legal options to recover misappropriated funds.  The Administration and Council are working hard to build trust in government. They are disappointed this happened and are taking all necessary action to open Parish Government to full transparency.”

Does “pursue all legal options to recover misappropriated funds” envision the possibility of lodging a criminal complaint?

It certainly should if the administration really means what it says when it comes to “full transparency.”  How much public trust was lost in the debacle that was State of Louisiana versus Kenneth P. Matassa?  What about the last council’s vote to pay off Matassa’s outstanding $231,829 legal fees?

Parish President Clint Cointment declined further comment earlier this week.