Top aide to St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister to retire

St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister’s top aide announced his retirement Friday, making him the latest in a string of high-ranking officials to leave the parish in recent months.

Bill Oiler, who served as chief administrative officer for 12 years, was chosen for the post by former Parish President Kevin Davis. He has continued to serve in that capacity under Brister, who took office 18 months ago.

Oiler, 66, was paid an annual salary of $159,822. He could not be reached for comment Friday.

His duties will be divided and assigned to Beverly Gariepy, the parish’s chief financial officer, and Gina Campo, deputy chief administrative officer, until a long-term plan is made, administration spokesman Ronnie Simpson said.

Oiler’s departure follows that of several aides who have left since the change in administration, including Kim Salter, first deputy chief administrative officer, who left at the end of May, and Suzanne Parsons, director of governmental and cultural affairs, who retired in January.

Those three also were among the 14 parish employees who drew the most money from a policy that allowed employees to carry over unlimited amounts of unused leave and to cash in substantial portions while still working for St. Tammany.

Salter had by far the highest amount — $150,895 — which was cashed in over a two-year period in 2010 and 2011.

Parsons collected $80,103 in unused sick leave, annual leave and comp time when she retired this year. Kevin Davis, who now heads the state’s homeland security office, also cashed in unused leave when he left office, to the tune of $70,262.28.

Oiler also collected $33,661 in a combination of sick leave, annual leave and comp time in 2007, well before his retirement.

Only three of the 14 employees who cashed in more than $10,000 in unused leave are still working for the parish.

Oiler, who began working for the parish in 1992, resigned briefly from his job in 2008 but was reinstated shortly thereafter, according to a report in The Times-Picayune.

“Bill served in the US military honorably, worked in government and the private sector, and has served St. Tammany Parish for many years,’’ Brister wrote in a statement. “We wish him luck, good health in the future, and a happy retirement.”

St. Tammany Parish Council Chairman Jerry Binder said that the news of Oiler’s retirement came as a surprise.

“I didn’t know that Bill was considering retirement,” he said. “Of course, that’s a personal decision that all of us come to at some point in our lives.”

Binder, who has served on the council for nearly 10 years, said that he found Oiler “very willing to work with the council and answer questions and share his views on solving problems.’’

He called the chief administrative officer job a stressful one, noting that St. Tammany is a growing parish.

“He’s done a tremendous amount of good for the parish, and he’s appreciated by the council as a whole,’’ Binder said.