Livingston council overrides parish president’s veto

The Livingston Parish Council voted Thursday to override Parish President Layton Ricks’ veto of an ordinance regarding council approval of parish government department heads and their salaries.

The ordinance, approved by the council May 9, establishes a timeline for the parish president to fill vacant department directors’ positions and outlines procedures for the council to approve the directors’ appointments and salaries.

The ordinance also would abolish any department head position that remained vacant for 120 days and sets a 60-day limit for any “acting” or temporary director to serve as department head without council approval.

Ricks vetoed the ordinance May 21 because he said it broadens council powers beyond what was granted under the parish’s Home Rule Charter.

The charter says all appointed directors of departments “created by or under this charter” are subject to council approval, as are the salaries of all president-appointed directors.

Ricks contends that because finance and public works are the only two departments specifically mentioned in the charter, the council does not have approval authority over other administrative appointments or salaries.

“I think it’s an encroachment on my job of running the parish,” Ricks told the council Thursday night.

Ricks said he is still awaiting a state Attorney General’s Office opinion on the issue and asked the council to put off action on the matter until he receives a response.

Councilman Jim Norred said the point of the ordinance is not to second-guess every decision the administration makes, but to set a reasonable timeline and process for carrying out the council’s charter-granted duties of approving department directors and their salaries.

Councilman Chance Parent agreed, saying, “As of right now, we already approve the directors. This is just putting a timeline on it. To me, that doesn’t violate anything.”

Councilwoman Joan Landry, who cast the lone vote against the override, said she believed the council was overstepping its bounds.

“I may not like how he does his daily business, but it’s not our place to tell him how to do his daily business,” Landry said.