LIVINGSTON — Livingston Parish President Layton Ricks confirmed Tuesday that the parish’s director of emergency preparedness has resigned.
That opens a second major parish government vacancy for Ricks to fill.
Ricks said he has begun the search for a director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness and will have a replacement for James Tullier in the job well before hurricane season starts June 1.
“There won’t be any problem getting a well-qualified individual to head” the OEP, Ricks said, adding that it will be easier than filling the vacant post of parish finance director.
He said he talked to a couple of candidates by phone Tuesday and plans to interview a candidate face-to-face Wednesday.
Asked the reason for Tullier’s resignation, Ricks said it was an internal matter.
“I wanted to go a different direction than we were going,” Ricks said.
“I appreciate the hard work and commitment of James Tullier in getting our parish ready for the upcoming hurricane season,” Ricks said. “James put us on the right track, and we will not miss a beat as OEP Assistant Director Sheri Kirley and OEP Coordinator Sam Mack continue getting this office in shape for any type of emergency that may occur in Livingston Parish.”
Ricks said OEP will remain in contact with fire departments, the Sheriff’s Office and the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.
In February, Ricks appointed Tullier to replace Mark Benton, who served as OEP director under former Parish President Mike Grimmer. Tullier had worked on Ricks’ transition team.
Ricks said Tuesday he is getting close to filling the post of parish finance director.
While Laurie Durnin serves as interim finance director, Parish Council members have asked Ricks on several occasions when he will propose a permanent finance director to the council.
Under the parish’s Home Rule Charter, the council must approve the finance director, but Ricks said he can appoint the OEP director without council approval.
In the absence of a finance director, Ricks said, his chief of staff, Mike Hughes, is co-signing parish checks with him.
The Parish Council had objected to Durnin handling that responsibility without being confirmed by the council and had given check-signing authority to Councilman Marshall Harris.
After a state attorney general’s opinion asserted that Ricks has legal power to sign parish checks alone, Ricks said he felt it was better to have two people sign parish checks.
He asked Harris to continue in that role, but Harris declined.
Check co-signing duty will go to the finance director, when one is approved by the council, Ricks said.
He said it has been difficult to find someone with sufficient governmental experience to serve as finance director.