Council makeup to go to voters
ST. FRANCISVILLE — West Feliciana Parish Home-Rule Charter Commission members hope to finish drafting a proposed new plan of government at a meeting Monday night, its chairman said.
“We’re going to try our best to wrap up the whole thing. There’s very few changes that we may make,” said Jack Hanemann.
The meeting is set for 6 p.m. in the Police Jury meeting room of the courthouse annex.
The commission, which has been working on a governmental plan since January 2011, expects to submit the final version to the Police Jury at a special meeting later this month, Hanemann said. Jurors have discussed submitting the proposal to the voters at the Nov. 6 presidential election.
Police jurors cannot change the proposed plan submitted by the charter commission.
“When we, the home-rule charter commission, turn it over to the Police Jury, all they can do is publish it and call an election,” Hanemann said.
If approved by the voters, the parish would be governed by a five-member council, four of them elected from new single-member districts and one member elected in parishwide, at-large balloting, according to a draft of the plan discussed April 30.
A parish president would be the chief executive officer,
responsible for running the day-to-day operations of the parish government and carrying out the council’s policy decisions.
The Police Jury appointed the commission at the request of the Greater St. Francisville Chamber of Commerce, whose board of directors suggested that the police jury system no longer adequately serves the parish’s needs.
Hanemann said the commission looked at 15 home-rule charters from other parishes.
“But, if you want to call it a template, it’s St. Charles Parish, but it’s not the same number of councilmen. We used St. Charles just to make sure we didn’t skip anything,” Hanemann said.
If voters approve the plan, an election would be held at least 90 days later to fill the office of parish president, and the seven police jurors would become parish council members until their terms expire at the end of 2015.
By then, the council would have been required to have a redistricting plan in place for the election of the four district council members in the fall elections of 2015. In the same 2015 fall elections, voters would elect a fifth council member running at large parishwide.
Other highlights of the proposal include:
- Setting council members’ pay at $800 per month without retirement or other benefits. No reimbursement would be allowed for travel in the parish.
- Setting a three-year residency requirement for council members and five years for the parish president, who also would have to be at least 30 years old.
- Limiting council members and the parish president to two full terms in office.
- Setting the parish president’s salary as the average of the salaries of the clerk of court, sheriff and assessor.
- Giving the parish president the power to veto line items in the council’s budgets.
- Authorizing a car for the parish president or reimbursement for travel at the rate recognized by the Internal Revenue Service.
- Limiting the days on which tax elections could be held.
- Creating finance, public works and planning and zoning departments.
- Leaving the Economic Development Board under its present configuration, but setting limits of four, two-year terms for other boards and commissions.
- Changing the fiscal year from July 1 to June 30, rather keeping it the same as the calendar year.