HRC Revision Committee discusses Articles VII

Halen Doughty
Courtesy photo

The Home Rule Charter Revision Committee took up Article VII at the May 7 meeting. Members discussed various sections relating to the finances of the parish.

In Section 7-01, which outlines how the parish budget should be administered, members hashed out when the budget should be submitted. The HRC requires it be submitted 75 days before the start of the fiscal year and approved by the council 30 days before the fiscal year begins.

Committee member and parish council chairman Bill Dawson said this doesn’t give the governing authority much time to pore over the document in detail. Former parish president Tommy Martinez, who also serves on the committee, said during his administration, council members were invited to participate in the entire process to give members a closer look at the budget. Ultimately, members decided to ask for a recommendation from the finance department on how to alter the timeframe for presenting a budget.

Section 03 that outlines annual audits was tabled for future discussion. The section on surety bonds, Section 04, was not amended at the meeting. It was also added to the list for further consideration.

After much discussion of various sections, no changes were proposed to Article VII of the charter. The meeting was cut short due to a drainage committee meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. that takes place in the same committee room.

At the Monday, May 14 meeting, the HRC Revision Committee will begin hearing expert testimony from groups that have presented proposed amendments to the charter. That will include the recommendation from A Better Ascension, which would implement a parish manager system of local government if approved by voters.

The proposal has encountered pushback from many residents, including some who serve on the HRC Revision Committee. Opponents say this would take away the right of the people to elect a parish president. Supporters of the proposal say not putting it on the ballot would take away voters’ right to choose their system of government.

Experts who testify at the meeting will be given more time than speakers during the public comment period, with a question and answer period to follow. Previous discussions of the ABA proposal have sparked heated debate among members.

The meeting begins at 5 p.m. at the Ascension Parish Courthouse in Gonzales.

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