East Ascension Drainage Board discusses drainage director search

Michael Tortorich
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
Ascension Parish Council members Aaron Lawler, Dal Waguespack, and Michael Mason are shown during the June 2 meeting held in Donaldsonville.

During the East Ascension Drainage Board meeting held in Gonzales June 13, commissioners and Ascension Parish President Clint Cointment delved into the search for a drainage director.

The president led off the discussion by bringing up points made in a June 9 email on the process of finding candidates for the position.

He expressed concern over duplication of efforts and the salary range for the job, noting the current highest pay among the parish's top directors is $133,000.

"I would like the opportunity to start streamlining this process so we can go out and get that individual at an affordable rate that doesn't upset the apple cart with all of the rest of our superstars in paying someone possibly more than every elected official in Ascension Parish," Cointment said.

Later in the conversation, the president said paying more than $200,000 with benefits would be "astronomical."

"That's more than the school board superintendent who's the highest paid person in the parish who runs the entire school system and gets paid roughly what the high end of this is. Not even a single elected official - sheriff, clerk of court, assessor, parish president, anybody - makes close to this," he said.

SSA Consultants CEO Dr. Christel Slaughter, who has been working on the search over the last eight months, said the problem has been providing solid answers to potential candidates.

In answering a question about lowering the salary for the position to $150,000, she said the lower amount would attract candidates who meets minimum qualifications.

"It's not all about the money. There are flooding problems everywhere in the United States. We have people from Miami to the East Coast who are technically qualified and have seen things and done things, can take thwork order system and make it sing," Slaughter said.

The current job description includes the following qualifications:

  • Five years of related experience in public works operations, drainage, floodplain management, and stormwater management, which includes three years of progressive management responsibility.
  • A bachelor's degree from an accredited four-year college or university with a major in civil engineering, environmental studies, geology, physical geography, landscape architecture, or a related field.
  • A professional engineer license from the State of Louisiana is highly preferred.

Chair Chase Melancon concluded the discussion by saying workshops will be scheduled for commissioners, the administration, and SSA to further discuss the matter.