GREENSBURG — The St. Helena Police Jury on Tuesday voted down a motion to create a parish manager position responsible for overseeing daily operations of parish government.
Resident Joe L. Lee said he has been pushing the Police Jury to create such a position to help them stay more informed about parish business.
Juror Warren McCray Jr. sponsored the item on Tuesday’s agenda, listing parish Grants Administrator and School Board member Virginia Bell as a potential appointee for the spot.
Lee said he envisions the parish manager as someone who would act as spokesperson for the parish with area legislators as well as the public, keeping the Police Jury informed of both long-term and day-to-day issues affecting the parish.
The manager would oversee the work of all parish departments but would report directly to the Police Jury, Lee said.
Responsibilities for the position would include preparation of the parish’s operations and maintenance budgets, financial reports and annual audit; personnel administration; policy development and implementation; oversight of public works activities; and administration of contracts for all outside professional and construction services, according to a job description Lee drafted.
“Make no mistake: We’ve got six good men on the board up there,” Lee said of the Police Jury before the meeting. “But with them meeting only twice a month, it’s almost impossible for them to know everything that’s going on in the parish. They know what’s happening in their ward only.”
A parish manager would help the jurors bridge that gap, enabling them to make decisions more efficiently and effectively, Lee said.
The idea has been tossed around by the jury’s Personnel Committee several times, jurors said Tuesday, and there was some consensus that the parish could be run more efficiently with additional oversight.
However, the jurors split on who should provide that oversight, in what capacity, and how they should proceed debating the particulars.
Jurors Major Coleman, Thomas Wicker, Theodore McCray Jr. and Warren McCray Jr. appeared to agree that some level of oversight is needed.
“Right now it’s just like everybody’s doing their own thing,” Wicker said of the way parish government currently operates. “Somebody needs to be in charge.”
Noting that the issue had already been to committee multiple times, Wicker called instead for a vote to approve the job description only.
The motion was voted down, 4-2, with Coleman and Warren McCray Jr. voting to approve the job description.
Wicker, Theodore McCray Jr., Doug Watson, Jules Charles Wascom voted against.
“I agree the parish needs to be reorganized,” Coleman said. “We can’t keep running this parish like it’s always been run,” he said to a round of head nods and a chorus of “You got that right” from the residents in attendance.
But Juror Theodore McCray Jr. said he wanted more time to examine the job description Lee had drafted and maybe make some changes, and Wicker said he thought another Police Jury employee from the Finance Department might make a better choice for the role.
Coleman said those issues should be discussed in Personnel Committee, rather than among the Police Jury as a whole, though he invited the other jurors to come to a committee meeting and join in that discussion.