At their monthly meeting on June 8, 2020, the Winn Parish Fire District #3 Board (The Board) passed a motion that eliminated promotions and pay raises received almost two years ago for three full-time personnel.
In September of 2018, The Board approved the creation of a lieutenant positions including the job description, the standard operating procedure(SOP), pay scale and guidelines for promotion. Winn Parish Fire District #3 (District) Fire Chief Harry Foster then promoted full-time employees Benjamin Murphy, Nicholas Carpenter, and Dustin Parker to the rank of lieutenant with the approved increase in pay.
During the June 8 meeting, board members asked, “why do we have three lieutenants that we never voted on?” and then stated that they approved the SOP and pay scale but never promoted anyone to the position.
In the recording of the June 8 meeting at large appointee and President of The Board, Mark Johns, stated, “We may need to make arrangements for Ben and Nick to reimburse their pay raises.” Chief Foster responded, “If that’s where you want to go, I’ll repay it, I’ll pay every penny of it.” At large board member, Brad Cooper commented: “I don’t think there is anything to take from them from the past, let’s go forward now. We only want two lieutenants.” Village of Sikes board appointee William “Buddy” King replied, “I don’t think we need any.” Johns chimed back in to say, “We don’t need someone with a title other than Harry.” Village of Calvin board appointee Ronald O’Bryan joined the conversation at this point “I think it should go back to how it used to be, everybody make the same money, and everybody be part-time and full-time. It’s less problems and less headaches. I think everyone should all make the same. It’s less complicated; everyone should make the same thing. O’Bryan then made a motion that eliminated the previously Board approved lieutenant position. The motion carried with three yeas, and two abstains. The roll call vote was as follows:
Gene Cain (at large appointee) – Abstain
Ronald O’Bryan (Village of Calvin appointee) – Yea
Buddy King (Village of Sikes appointee) – Yea
John Holden(Village of Dodson appointee) – Yea
Brad Cooper (at large appointee) – Abstain
The decision to eliminate rank and structure from the department could negatively affect the District’s Property Insurance Association of Louisiana (PIAL) Fire Rating, which would then increase parish citizen’s homeowner’s insurance rates.
The District fell from a ranking of 5 to 6 during their last evaluation. The PIAL ranks departments 1 – 10, 1 being the best. According to PIAL’s website, personnel is one of the criteria with most point value. Personnel items that affect the rating include on-duty manpower, training, and certifications. The previously approved lieutenant position pay scale outlined a plan to incentivize additional certifications.
“I was trying to create a more professional department to provide the people of the parish with better service. Good equipment, good people, and trained personnel,” said Chief Foster.
The Winn Parish Police Jury (WPPJ) is the governing agency of the District. The three “at large” positions on The Board are appointed by the WPPJ. The other four board positions are appointed by the mayor and alderman of each parish village, Calvin, Dodson, Atlanta and, Sikes. Atlanta’s position is currently open.
Any concerns about the actions of The Board and its possible future effects on homeowner’s insurance rates can be directed to your district fire board representative listed above as well as your WPPJ Juror.
District 1 – Phillip Evans
District 2 – Deionne Carpenter
District 3 – Josh McAllister – President
District 4 – Tammy Griffin
District 5 – Kirk Miles
District 6 – Author Robinson
District 7 – Allen Michale McCartney – Vice President