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City to file bonus plan request to AG’s office, could run into legal hurdles

Published: Mar. 15, 2022 at 10:36 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -Friday, New Orleans EMS directors pleaded with the civil service commission to help them recruit and retain more workers with the help of a bonus.

“I can tell you this morning we had someone’s mother someone’s brother was not receiving the life-saving interventions they needed because we did not have the staff,” said Dr. Meg Marino.

New Orleans EMS says since January 11 EMT’s left for other opportunities, leaving about 30 openings in their 170-person staff.

“We are very acutely hemorrhaging employees, and this has resulted in delays in care for our sickest patients in New Orleans,” said Marino.

The civil service commission did pass the mayor’s incentive plan, contingent on approval by the state’s attorney general. As it stands, it would award at least $5,000 bonuses to NOPD officers based on years of service. EMTs, paramedics, juvenile detention workers, and mechanics at most could only receive $4,500 hundred dollars.

“Madam commissioner, so the amendment would have brand new police officers get $5,000, but EMTs who have worked here for 5, 10 years would get $500?” said Evan Pond.

“That is the city’s proposal,” said one commissioner.

“So, our deputy chief of operations who ‘s been here his whole career would only get $2,000,” said Pond.

In considering the mayor’s incentive plan, however, one legal expert says it could run into both legal and political hurdles at the attorney general’s office.

“If you’re giving these bonuses for past services, it’s unconstitutional. And so, it may not be legal. Now that the city’s position is the purpose of these bonuses is for retention, which is something in the future. So you have two opposing views,” said Doug Sunseri.

It’s hard to say how the attorney general would issue his opinion, but attorney, Doug Sunseri says there’s probably a reason why the administration tried to bypass the A.G.’s office.

“I think the mayor is very hesitant to want to be beholden to the attorney general, given the fact they butted heads for the last five, six years… If you don’t have that seal of approval, and someone comes along and challenges it in court, then you’re in a very bad position of asking all these police officers for their money back,” said Sunseri.

New Orleans EMS chose not to comment today on the incentive plan, deferring comment to the city who told us they plan to submit their request to the AG’s office tomorrow.

We reached out to the AG’s office on when they plan to take up the mayor’s incentive plan but have not yet heard back.

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