Council votes to keep current agents despite charter violation claim

The Iberia Parish Council voted unanimously Wednesday to continue the process of collecting insurance price quotes that was started in December even though the process might have violated a previous council-approved resolution.

The parish’s liability insurance, property insurance and workers compensation contracts renew yearly March 1 and cost the parish a total of about $500,000 annually.

Councilman Troy Comeaux said a resolution was passed in 2010 that directed parish administration officials to draw lots during a meeting in order to choose which local agents were going to pursue insurance policy price quotes and bring them back to the council as a bid.

The resolution also stated that the council was supposed to be notified of the meeting and when the pricing process was started.

Comeaux said he was not notified of the December meeting and asked other members of the council, who also said they had not been notified. Comeaux said he was not sure what to do about the situation as Parish President Errol “Romo” Romero was not present to answer the allegation.

Parish government Personnel Director Mike Guillory said Romero told him in December to meet with local insurance agent Armand Schwing so they could begin the insurance policy price quote collection process.

Guillory said he was unaware the process violated the resolution.

Schwing said he also was unaware that the process violated the resolution. He said he was acting as a businessperson helping a client.

Councilman David Ditch then offered a motion to use the same agents as those in 2012 so that the contract prices can be renewed at similar price as last year and so that the process is not slowed so much that insurance policies lapse.

The council approved Ditch’s motion but took no action on Comeaux’s accusations.

A similar situation occurred last year when former parish Chief Administrative Officer Joel Dugas told the council in February that not enough work had been done on the insurance contracts because the administration was newly elected. The council voted then to use the same contract holders from 2011.

Other items discussed during the meeting included:

ROOF WORK: The council also voted unanimously to set aside $20,000 for Aviation Exteriors to lease a portable building to house the office staff of an unnamed Washington state-based company hoping to move to the Acadiana Regional Airport and use Aviation Exteriors’ facilities.

Aviation Exteriors representative Raymond Bernard said his company cannot house the unnamed company’s office staff in the hangar office because leaks in the roof have caused him to move the company’s staff.

Bernard added that his company has a large contract with the unnamed company that could bring dozens of new jobs to the parish.

The parish owns the hangar and must pay for the repairs and renovations to it.

Bernard said he met with parish officials last year and was told work would be started on the roof in January, but now has been told it will start in April.

Council Chairman Roger Duncan said Bernard should contact him and they would make sure the work takes place on time.