NEW IBERIA — The Iberia Parish Council unanimously passed a resolution Wednesday to send the results of its investigative audit of Parish President Errol “Romo” Romero’s office staff to the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office.
Council member Tommy Landry said parish charter hiring qualifications and job descriptions were changed when the parish president hired Department of Public Works maintenance superintendent Holly Leleaux-Thurbron.
Leleaux-Thurbron also performs media relations, in addition other non-public works department-related duties.
The audit, performed by Kolder, Champagne, Slaven and Co., found that Leleaux-Thurbron did not meet the minimum qualifications for the public works position when hired.
Landry said the council sets the public works superintendent job qualifications, and the parish president cannot change or ignore that.
Additionally, Landry said Leleaux-Thurbron was hired Feb. 26. He said that an unsigned document, stating that Leleaux-Thurbron’s job duties and requirements had been modified, was put in her personnel file in April.
Landry said he has not seen the document but he said it seems to him that someone in the parish president’s office tried to change Leleaux-Thurbron’s job duties and qualifications after she was hired.
Romero told the council he did not know who put the document in Leleaux-Thurbron’s file. He said he would make sure such an incident did not happen again in the future.
Romero said he does have the power under the charter to change the job duties and qualifications because there is no specific process to change them in the charter.
Council member Troy Comeaux said that changing an employee’s job duties and qualifications after the fact raises many questions. He said he wants to know who was responsible for the changes.
Council member Roger Duncan suggested that the road tax that pays for the public works superintendent position does not cover the public relations work and would have to be paid back.
Legal adviser Dean Wattigny said the money would have to come from the parish government’s general fund, which would require council approval.
The audit, which started June 13, is a result of allegations that some newly hired employees do not meet parish charter requirements because they are unqualified, some new employees are not doing assigned work and some new hires are also conducting work not in their job descriptions while on the clock.
Troy Courville, a representative for the audit firm, said that it could take 10 days or more to hear from the legislative auditor about the report.
Landry said the hope is that the legislative auditor’s staff will examine the report and let the council know if any laws have been violated or if the council needs to make changes to its hiring procedures.
The council did not want to single out Leleaux-Thurbron, Landry said, but members want the parish president to be aware of the proper procedures for hiring employees.
He said the hiring raises legal liability concerns that may cause problems for the parish.