PLAQUEMINE — The Iberville Parish Council redefined “vacation” in the parish’s employee policy handbook but did not change any requirements or benefits when it met Tuesday night.
From now on, the parish’s 160 salaried and hourly employees will take paid “annual leave,” instead of “vacation.” After employees are on the parish rolls for six months, they qualify for paid “annual leave,” from 40 hours for one year’s service up to 160 hours for 15 or more years of service.
“This brings the parish into closer alignment with other public entities,” said Edward “Lucky” Songy Jr., the parish’s chief administrative officer, including the state and other parishes.
The reason the change was made, Songy said, was because some employees were apparently taking advantage of the system that also includes “sick leave.” On a scale of one to 10, Songy estimated the problem at “about a five,” which is why the parish clarified the rules.
“Sick leave” is now defined only to allow employees to miss work because of “their own illness or injury which prevents the employee from performing their usual duties,” according to the revised ordinance.
Some employees apparently had been claiming “sick leave” to care for others. Employees can also claim sick leave for “medical, dental or optical consultation or other health treatment,” the policy states.
“No benefits or hours have been cut,” Songy said. The policy still allows employees to accrue sick leave and annual leave over their careers and claim the unspent time upon retirement.
In other business, Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso Jr., reported that the state Department of Transportation and Development will put up a traffic signal at Enterprise Boulevard and Belleview Road in Plaquemine within about 60 days at a cost of $70,000 after “29 or so wrecks.”
The council also approved a resolution asking the state DOTD to provide streetlights along a stretch of La. 1 between the American Legion Post No. 167 to the Plaquemine Truck Stop. The stretch has seen multiple accidents, including some fatalities, the resolution stated, and improved lighting should help motorists see the road better.
“Good things are coming in 2014,” Ourso said, and reported work is progressing on the new $22 million Ochsner Medical Clinic that is set for completion in fall 2014. He also said he will be making some announcements this coming summer “for industrial things that are looking good as we move forward.”
The council approved a resolution, adopting the annual certification of compliance with Louisiana’s Off-System Bridge Replacement Program. The parish will inspect 36 bridges longer than a 20-foot span and another 17 bridges that are less than 20 feet in span to ensure they comply with national standards.