Police Jury, Registrar at odds over proposed cuts to budget

CROWLEY - A recommendation by the parish’s budget committee to eliminate a position in the Registrar of Voters office drew pleas for reconsideration from parish Registrar Billie Meyer here Tuesday night.
The last item on the otherwise routine agenda, except for the presentation of the monthly financial report, was to authorize the calling of a public hearing to receive comments on the proposed 2017 budget.
Included in that call is “the termination of a Registrar of Voters Parish employee” effective Jan. 1 2017, along with the hiring of a Bulk Waste Supervisor and the upgrade of a part-time landfill employee to a full-time position.
“I was never brought into the conversation ... never allowed the opportunity to defend this position,” Meyer told the police jury Tuesday night.
“This ‘position’ is a human being whose life is going to be turned upside down just to balance a budget,” she said, though she never named the person whose position is threatened.
Meyer went on to defend the position, explaining that the role of the registrar has taken on a much more technical aspect in recent years and that the person holding the targeted position handles much of the technical operation of the office.
Laura Faul, jury secretary-treasurer, pointed out that termination of the position would save the parish $32,113.47 (salary and benefits) over the course of a year and Peggy Romero, parish budgeting director, added that, in light of the fact that employees parishwide have taken 20 percent cuts in pay this year, “this amount is significant in balancing our budget.”
Romero added that other parishes of comparable size have a registrar and two deputy registrars and the elimination of this position would bring Acadia in line with those parishes.
Meyer said she has requested an opinion from the state Attorney General, to which Brad Andrus, parish legal counsel, recommended that the jury authorize him to also submit a request for a similar opinion.
“Attorney General opinions are only as good as the question submitted,” he said.
Andrus also pointed out that the matter facing the jury Tuesday night was only whether or not to call a public hearing on the proposed budget.
“You can’t make a decision on this employee here. The only question before you is whether or not you want to call a public hearing,” he said.
Jurors set the public hearing for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 13, the date of the next regular police jury meeting.
The only other matter of contention during the meeting was the appointment of a member to the Fourth Ward Drainage District No. 1.
Robert Guidry recommended the reappointment of Carl Dischler, but that was defeated by a 4-3 vote with only Chuck Broussard and Richard Faul joining with Guidry. Danny Hebert, Ronnie Fabacher, Kerry Kilgore and Jimmy Pellerin opposed. David Savoy was absent.
On Fabacher’s recommendation, Wendell Zaunbrecher was appointed to the seat.

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