NEW IBERIA — Just one vote keeps alive for another two weeks a pay issue that was part of an Iberia Parish Council investigative audit done by a private company and sent to the state Legislative Auditor’s Office.
The council voted to expand its meeting agenda Wednesday to settle the pay issue but Councilman Thomas Landry voted against the motion to expand the agenda.
A motion to expand the agenda must be unanimous to move forward if it has not been placed on the agenda prior to the meeting.
The vote was held after a report from Parish President Errol “Romo” Romero that said his office would pay $5,523 to the drainage maintenance fund for non-drainage maintenance work that Drainage Maintenance Superintendent Holly Leleaux-Thurbron has conducted since she was hired in February.
The audit, submitted to the council in August, found that the parish president may have violated parish law by having Leleaux-Thurbron conduct public relations and other non-public works duties out of the Parish President’s Office instead of at the Public Works Office.
The council has requested since September that the parish president account for all of Leleaux-Thurbron’s time spent at the Public Works Office and the Parish President’s Office.
Leleaux-Thurbron’s work may be in violation of parish law because a drainage tax funds her position and the language of the law says the tax money can only be used for public works duties.
Councilman David Ditch said he wanted to see the issue settled so that the parish can move forward.
“This is an issue we’ve been talking about for too long,” Ditch said.
Landry said the pay issue violates the parish charter and asked the parish president if he intentionally violated the spirit of the parish charter with his actions.
Romero said no.
The audit was 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 also are conducting work not in their job descriptions while on the clock since January when Romero took office.
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.
Other items discussed during the meeting included:
FRUIT OF THE LOOM: The council voted unanimously to hire someone to appraise the former Fruit of the Loom building in Jeanerette.
The city of Jeanerette is willing to sell the building. It has been appraised at $3 million, but Iberia Parish government may be able to get it for $2 million.
Si Brown, owner of Bruce Foods, is interested in locating his business inside the building, parish officials have said.
Council member Aquiline Arnold said the appraisal is needed to find the current value of the building so the council can begin negotiations to sell it.