Members also took up the resolution that created the committee on which they serve. The committee is set to wrap up by May 31 under the initial resolution, but some were concerned that does not leave enough time to fully vet all of the proposals brought forward.

The Home Rule Charter Revision Committee took up Article V of the HRC during the April 23 meeting. Members discussed various positions within the administration, including the secretary, treasurer, and parish attorney.

Committee member and council chairman Bill Dawson opened up the discussion of the secretary position by proposing that the secretary report to the parish council, rather than the parish president as currently outlined in the HRC. He recommended altering the document to have the secretary be appointed by the council and answer to them as well.

Committee member and councilman Aaron Lawler pushed to have the parish treasurer answer to the council as well because the parish council is the body that approves the budget. He noted that both Congress and the Louisiana State Legislature have a budgetary office beneath them.

There was less support for altering the treasurer position, other than ensuring the secretary and treasurer cannot be the same person. A motion to give the council power over the secretary was approved without objection.

No changes were made to Section 02 of Article V, which deals with the chief administrative officer.

In Section 03 on the parish attorney, much discussion was held about having separate legal counsel for the parish council and the president, with some noting potential conflicts of interest. Lawler said an attorney cannot represent two clients who have adverse interests.

Lawler said it doesn't seem necessary to employ a full-time parish attorney, as there would be a significant cost associated with that. Dawson noted that money is appropriated in the budget should members of the council need their own attorney.

Lawler said the residency requirement for the parish attorney could be problematic. The HRC currently requires the parish attorney to maintain a residence within the parish for at least five years before being appointed to the position. Lawler said by excluding attorneys from surrounding parishes, we could miss out on some of the best and brightest the area has to offer.

After vetting the ideas on the table, a motion to eliminate the residency requirement was approved without opposition. Section 04 dealing with the human resources director was tabled until the next meeting, as members want more information on the qualifications for that position.

Members also took up the resolution that created the committee on which they serve. The committee is set to wrap up by May 31 under the initial resolution, but some were concerned that does not leave enough time to fully vet all of the proposals brought forward.

Dawson said the deadline to get something on the December ballot in 2018 is approaching. He said it seems necessary to allow voters to decide what form of government they would like, as many of the changes could depend on whether a parish president or parish manager is at the helm.

Committee member Wade Petite noted that with not many big ticket items on the December ballot, voter turnout is expected to be low. He asked what the hurry is in rushing these items to the polls, adding that elections will also be held in the spring of 2019 and that 2020 is a presidential election year. Both of which, he said, would see much higher turnout at the polls.

Lawler was concerned about putting all of the HRC revision proposals on the same ballot. He said when too many items appear at once, they tend to get voted down. He went on to say that voter turnout depends solely on the voters, and it is up to residents to come out and vote in every election, not just the presidential race.

Ultimately, Dawson made a motion to direct the committee to present any recommendations for a 2018 election by May 31, while also allowing it to report any additional findings at a later date. The motion was approved without opposition.

The next meeting of the Home Rule Charter Revision Committee will be held Monday, April 30 at 5 p.m. at the Ascension Parish Courthouse in Gonzales.

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