CONVENT — The St. James Parish Council agreed in a 5-2 vote to hold two public hearings on a proposal to create a job slot for a new chief administrative officer who would report directly to the parish president.
The chief administrative officer, or CAO, would work with the Parish Council on improving policies and procedures and assisting government officials with day-to-day business of the parish.
Parish President Timmy Roussel would set the employee’s salary, according to a job description created by the parish.
Parish Council Chairman Jimmy Brazan said Roussel, who did not attend Wednesday’s council meeting, asked him to place the ordinance introducing the creation of the CAO position on that night’s agenda.
“All we’re doing is bringing it before the public,” Brazan said. “We’re putting it out there.”
The chief administrative officer position actually was created about 20 years ago under a previous administration, Brazan said.
But on the recent recommendation of the state Attorney General’s Office, the Parish Council is seeking to rectify a decades-old mistake made in creating the position.
In an interview after the meeting Wednesday, Eric Deroche, parish emergency operations director, said the position has been vacant for about six years.
Councilmen Jason Amato and Ralph Patin expressed concerns over introducing the clarifying ordinance that night.
But Councilmen Alvin St. Pierre and Terry McCreary agreed the Office of Chief Administrative Officer is a position needed to handle governmental affairs, especially with the industrial and population growth the parish is experiencing.
The ordinance introduction passed with Councilmen St. Pierre, McCreary, Brazan, Charles Ketchens and Ken Brass supporting it.
Councilman Patin and Amato voted against the measure.
Public hearings will be held at 6 p.m. Aug. 15 in Vacherie and at 6 p.m. Sept. 5 in Convent.
The parish’s home rule charter states the Parish Council must have a two-thirds majority vote to create a department or office by ordinance.
Other business before the council included:
TAX MILLAGES: The Parish Council agreed to consider a proposed ordinance setting the property tax millage for 2012 at 34.48 mills.
Parish Director of Operations Jody Chenier said, if passed, the rate would decrease from last year’s rate of 34.54 mills.
The council’s public hearing on the millage rate is scheduled for 6:15 p.m. Aug. 15 in Vacherie.