Flying mosquito plane gets noticed

County commissioners released salary figures Tuesday required by law to be advertised in the media before they adopt their budget Sept. 21. 

Changes were seen in the salaries of the county judge, all four commissioners and the sheriff, among others. Based on longevity issues and $720 cellphone allotments, suggested salaries moved up a few thousand to include:

Judge Carl Thibodeaux: to $86,204; commissioners Owen Burton (Precinct 2) and Beamon Minton (Precinct 4) to $64,078; and Precinct 3 Commissioner John Dubose: to $64,150. 

Suggested pay for the newest commissioner, David Dubose, who began serving in January and hasn’t received longevity pay, is $63,838. Sheriff Keith Merritt has received longevity pay (from his days as a constable) and certification pay, moving his suggested salary up to $78,022. Merritt does not receive cellphone compensation. 

The county’s four constable’s salaries, suggested Tuesday, would be $66,273 – (Precinct 1, Chris Humble); $66,826 – (Precinct 2, Rob Strause); $66,468 – (Precinct 3, Mark Philpott); and $66,888 – (Precinct 4, Weldon Peveto). All four receive cellphone allowances of $720, and having previously served with the county would get longevity pay. Peveto was the only incumbent who ran in the last constable election.

In other business Tuesday, it was noticed that residents, apparently unaware of the county’s low flying mosquito spray-plane, have been calling authorities about it. 

Thibodeaux said he got a call from the Coast Guard over the weekend about a low-flying plane near the Port of Orange. He assumed it was a joke.

“I get jacked with a lot by my friends,” he said. “But this guy was serious. He didn’t have much of a sense of humor, though.”

The plane is also a bit noisy, said John Dubose, who added that the plane has been effective, and the mosquito population has gone down in Bridge City since regular flights began.

Also Tuesday, commissioners tabled a proposal to remove the ceiling on sick leave from county employees. 

The idea came up in recent talks between the county and sheriff’s union. Under current rules, employees get 720 hours for sick leave and when they leave the county are given 480 hours. Under the new plan a person could accumulate 1,000 hours of leave, which as Thibodeaux noted would come in handy for employees laid-up with a serious illness.

“There is some abuse of that but trust me, it’s a very small percentage,” Thibodeaux said. 

“I look at [the proposal as a way] to reward those who come to work every day. There’s no cost to the county, unless someone took off 1,000 hours due to catastrophic illness. But if someone has that much sick leave, that’s a pretty good employee.”