CHALMETTE, LA (WVUE) - Dave Peralta no longer has authority to grant pay raises to any St. Bernard Parish employees. That's just one change made Tuesday by the parish council in an effort to modify how much power the parish president has.
In a swift vote with no discussion, members of the St. Bernard Council passed two different ordinances aimed at giving them more control over the parish's budget. The first measure institutes a hiring freeze for six months, unless the council votes on the hire.
The second ordinance puts a moratorium on salary increases for parish employees and allows the council to approve or deny any raises that were given by Parish President Dave Peralta, in the past six months.
Council chairman Guy McInnis explains, "We're trying to get a handle on that going into our budget process for next year and just to make sure that we budget for raises that are foreseen in the future."
According to McInnis, $300,000 to $400,000 was spent this year on employee pay raises. Money that he says, was never budgeted for.
Legal troubles have been mounting for Peralta the past few months. In April, a St. Bernard grand jury handed up a sexual battery charge against him. He pleaded not guilty. Then last month, a state grand jury indicted Peralta on a charge of stalking his ex-wife.
"Anytime you have something like that very large going on in your life, an issue going on like that in your life, of course it's going to distract you every day," said councilman Casey Hunnicutt.
McInnis adds, "He's even said that this is a distraction now, so no one disputes that, no one really disputes the fact that his ability to lead has been diminished because of all of this."
Back in June, we asked Peralta his thoughts on the possible restriction of his authority. He said, "They want more control. There's a select group of councilmen in my opinion that want more control. If you want more control of the executive branch, then run for the office."
Despite being unhappy with the ordinances, Hunnicutt says Peralta sent the council an email before Tuesday's vote, saying he would abide by the councils wishes and fully work with them in the future.
Hunnicutt says despite the distractions in Peralta's personal life, the parish president is making an effort to meet the obligations of his job. At this point, the council doesn't have any more plans to try to take away additional responsibility from Peralta.