BASTROP, La. — (4/22/19) Bastrop Fire Department is home to 40 firefighters and 28% of the budget, but for some time now 32 firefighters in Bastrop indicate they haven’t been getting paid for their time on the job. So they’re suing to get it.
“They’re just asking to be paid right, they’re well within their rights to have gotten their money as set out by law,” said Bastrop Mayor Henry Cotton.
The lawsuit dates back to 2005 under the leadership former Mayor Clarence Hawkins.
“It’s inherited, but I’m not making excuses,” said Cotton.
Louisiana law states that firefighters will receive longevity pay after three continuous years of service. It also indicated that they will get equal pay for performance, duties and responsibilities. However, Bastrop firefighters say they haven’t gotten their money.
“It’s just accumulated because the city has been in continuous violation of the law. If it had been settled in 2008 or 2009 it probably would have cost a couple hundred thousand dollars.”
With so much time and interest accrued, that cost could be doubled possibly tripled. So now Mayor Cotton says he’ll fix it. The lawsuit is asking for back pay, to be brought up to the correct pay rate and for a plan to be put in place so that this doesn’t happen again.
“We’re going to be fair, we’re going to go in good faith,” said the mayor.
Cotton believes the fire department is a critical component of Bastrop and he is unsure where the money will come from to help pay for this battle. According to the city clerk Bastrop is already maxed out on it’s 2.5% sales tax, but Cotton says there’s one thing he know’s he doesn’t want to do and that’s cutting jobs.
NBC 10/FOX 14 has reached out to the attorney’s representing the firefighters and is waiting on a response. We are also waiting to here from the city clerk as to the pay rate’s of Bastrop firefighters.
The trial for this case is set for May 6,7 and 9.