Town of Kenner defends emergency payment of staff after Hurricane Ida

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Overtime paid to employees in the town of Kenner in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida is high, with some workers earning four or even five times their regular wages on a bi-weekly pay period. But the city says it followed all the rules. When Hurricane Ida struck in August, nearly every parish and town in southeast Louisiana had employees on high alert, ready to respond. This includes Kenner. Three stand out. Deputy Director General Chad Pitfield – one of Mayor Ben Zahn’s main staff. A pay period shows that his normal bi-weekly salary earns him $ 5,300. he brought home over $ 24,000 in that one paycheck. Almost four times his salary in the event of a disaster. In a written statement, Zahn said: “The first three to four weeks after the storm were we were limited by the number of employees who were here, as well as by the conditions in the city.” And Pitfield is not. the only one to have paid for many disasters. Stephen Phillipe – who works in the emergency response office – was paid his bi-weekly salary of just over $ 1,900 on the first day of October – just a month after Hurricane Ida. But records show he also collected more than $ 11,000 in disaster compensation for that two-week pay period. He is the city’s director of public works. His bi-weekly salary is $ 3,600. Kenner Town on this. The city said: “This very difficult type of work takes place across the country after emergencies and is routinely reimbursed by FEMA. Are required to report to work while others are allowed to evacuate or take shelter at home. All employees receive their regular wages during this period. Those required to report for work during a declared emergency receive additional compensation for all hours worked. This is not compensation for overtime. The policy for directors, assistant directors and executive staff is as follows: For days when the city has been closed, these employees are automatically paid their regular hours even if they have not been called. , employees who are called to work are paid this time in addition to the regular salary for the regular scheduled hours, plus administrative compensation time for the hours worked in outside the declared emergency period. For hours worked within the declared emergency period, these employees are paid regular hours and regular hours. For example, an employee in this category is called and works 19 hours in a 24 hour period. These 19 hours are added to the 7 hours, which are the regular salary, for a total of 26 hours. This does not mean that the employee worked more than 24 hours on that day. The employee worked 19 hours but was paid 26 hours using the formula to add disaster pay to regular pay. This policy has been in place since 2002 in Kenner and FEMA has approved and reimbursed the city after emergency events since then including hurricanes and an ice storm. The first three to four weeks after the storm were particularly long, critical and very difficult days in part because we were limited by the number of employees who were here, as well as the conditions in the city. This very difficult type of work takes place across the country after emergencies and is systematically reimbursed by FEMA.

Overtime paid to employees in the town of Kenner in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida is high, with some workers earning four or even five times their regular wages during a bi-weekly pay period.

But the city says it followed all the rules.

When Hurricane Ida struck in August, nearly every parish and town in southeast Louisiana had staff members on high alert, ready to respond.

This includes Kenner.

And records – recently obtained by WDSU Investigates – show some workers in the town of Kenner were well paid to work during this natural disaster.

Three stand out.

Deputy CAO Chad Pitfield – a senior member of Mayor Ben Zahn.

A pay period shows that his regular bi-weekly salary pays him $ 5,300.

But his overtime – or his disaster pay – at the same time, just over $ 19,400.

Which means he brought home over $ 24,000 on that paycheck alone.

Almost four times his salary in the event of a disaster.

In a written statement, Zahn said: “The first three to four weeks after the storm were particularly long, critical and very difficult days in part because we were limited by the number of staff who were here, as well as the number of people who were there. conditions in the city. . “

And Pitfield isn’t the only one who has charged a lot of disasters.

Stephen Phillipe – who works in the emergency response office – received his bi-weekly salary of just over $ 1,900 on the first day of October – just one month after Hurricane Ida.

But records show he also collected over $ 11,000 in disaster compensation for that two-week pay period.

And then there’s Kenneth Melvin.

He is the city’s director of public works.

His bi-weekly salary is $ 3,600.

But he collected an additional $ 12,500 on Oct. 1 in disaster compensation.

This is in addition to his regular salary, which means he cashed a check for over $ 15,000.

We asked the town of Kenner about this. The city said: “This very difficult type of work takes place all over the country after emergencies and is systematically reimbursed by FEMA.”

Here is the full statement Kenner sent to WDSU: In a declared disaster, which was the case after Ida, some staff are required to report to work while others are allowed to evacuate or take shelter in their homes.

All employees receive their normal salary during this period. Those who are required to report to work during a declared emergency receive additional compensation for all hours worked. It is not overtime pay.

The policy for directors, assistant directors and executive staff is as follows: For days when the city has been closed, these employees are automatically paid their regular hours even though they have not been called. In addition, employees who are called to work are paid this time in addition to the regular salary for the regular scheduled hours, plus administrative compensation time for hours worked outside the declared emergency time.

For hours worked within the declared emergency period, these employees are paid regular hours and regular hours.

For example, an employee in this category is called and works 19 hours in a 24 hour period. These 19 hours are added to the 7 hours, which are the regular salary, for a total of 26 hours. This does not mean that the employee worked more than 24 hours on that day. The employee worked 19 hours but was paid 26 hours using the formula to add disaster pay to regular pay.

This policy has been in place since 2002 in Kenner and FEMA has approved and reimbursed the city after emergency events since then including hurricanes and an ice storm.

The first three to four weeks after the storm were particularly long, critical and very difficult days in part because we were limited by the number of employees who were here, as well as the conditions in the city.

This very difficult type of work takes place across the country after emergencies and is systematically reimbursed by FEMA.


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