Search for Drainage Director going nowhere, Cointment administration weighs in

Ascension President Clint Cointment

On October 18 an agreement was approved by EA Drainage Board which retained President Clint Cointment’s services and participation in drainage matters.  It also imposed certain obligations on President Clint Cointment.

Parish President shall contract and work with a qualified subject matter consultant to create an organizational structure, delineate search criteria for a Drainage Director and perform a national search for a Drainage Director to be presented to EACGDD for ratification within 60 days of the execution of this document.

That was 238 days ago…and EA Drainage, with assistance of SSA Consultants, has yet to find its Drainage Director.  Still grappling with the issue, President Cointment has decided to weigh in.  Cointment addressed the matter in a lengthy correspondence to the Board for consideration at tonight’s meeting (see below).

1.  I am writing to communicate concerns with regards to the hiring process, thus far, for the new Drainage Director position. This document has been created by myself, John Diez – Chief Administrative Officer, Lucy Cason – Human Resource Director, Patrick Goldsmith – Chief Financial Officer and Ron Savoy – DPW Director

2. I was neither asked to participate in nor advised of the recruitment process for this important Ascension Parish Government position. I have significant concerns that we may hire someone without the direction of the Parish President, which is mine alone to provide, as the Drainage Director position falls under my administrative and managerial authority.

3. The duties of the position were not accurately advertised, and as previously stated, I was not afforded the opportunity to engage in the process and neither was the Ascension Parish Government’s Human Resources Department. However, I remain optimistic that the Drainage Director position has the potential to positively impact Ascension Parish Government with the right candidate that possesses the appropriate education, licensure, and qualifications.

4. The job posting listed duties that are native and currently being performed by existing Ascension Parish Government employees (see enclosure 1). This duplication of effort, while I don’t believe to be intentional, is not an appropriate use of public funds. Focus should be placed on the following:

a. An emphasis on what I consider to be our largest gap in the Drainage Department, which is the ability to have a resident professional engineer with a background in flood plain management and the ability to provide in-house engineering solutions for small and intermediate level drainage projects.
b. Experience with work order systems in order to develop maintenance plans, which are developed from call center data.

5. While I fully understand and respect SSA’s role in this process, I propose that Ascension Parish Government’s Human Resources Department lead the development of the Drainage Director’s official position description and concurrently participate in the recruitment efforts for this position. This partnership will ensure our hiring procedures, which are required by ordinance, are followed.

6. The following are my recommendations for the Drainage Director position that are not currently being performed by and the sole responsibility of existing Ascension Parish Government staff.

a. Title and Compensation

  • Title: Drainage Director
  • 1st Line Supervisor: Parish President
  • FLSA: Exempt
  • Labor Grade: 133 (the highest approved Labor Grade within our current Classification Plan)
  • Salary Range: $106,558.40 – $150,209.23 (used for top level directors and administrative staff)

b. Minimum Experience and Education Qualifications Requirement

  • Five (5) years of related experience in higher level positions in public works operations, drainage, floodplain manager and/or stormwater management, which includes three (3) years of progressive management responsibility, and
  • A Bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year college or university majoring in Civil Engineering, Environmental Studies, Geology, Physical Geography, Landscape Architecture, or a related field. An emphasis in Hydrology is preferred.

c. Required Licensure as a Condition of Employment

  • A valid and current Louisiana state driver’s license. A Professional Engineer license from the State of Louisiana is highly preferred.

d. Competencies

  • Expert management skills
  • Expert hydrologic engineering experience
  • Advanced knowledge of the principles and practices of planning, in compliance with Federal and State laws/guidelines, the flood plain management process, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), and floodplain mapping
  • Expert knowledge of hydrology models, land use planning theory and practice, processes, ordinances, and their applications
  • Advanced ability to deal with the public in a professional manner under adverse and stressful situations
  • Expert knowledge of and experience in applying for and obtaining USACE permits
  • Expert ability to review drainage engineering and construction plans, assist in developmental compliance as a representative for Ascension Parish Government
  • Expert ability to review drainage engineering and construction plans, assist in developmental compliance as a representative for Ascension Parish Government
  • Advanced ability to forecast and execute a multi-million annual budget, and a 3-5-year capital budget
  • Expert ability to deliver public presentations to a variety of audiences including Ascension Parish’s Governing Authority, commissioners, partner agencies, and other governmental organizations
  • Advanced ability to work with interdepartmental groups on code enforcement and the creation of new regulations related to drainage operations

e. Major Duties

  • Responsible for the professional and administrative oversight of all public works activities related to area of authority
  • Assist with developing a parish-wide drainage maintenance plan to handle citizen complaints and urgent issues coupled with a program of preventive maintenance to include culvert upgrades, ditch clearance, off-road maintenance, mowing, etc. and oversee and monitor the implementation of this plan.
  • In coordination with the Director of Planning and Development, assist with the development and administration of the departmental budget; prepare the five-year capital improvement program; direct the preparation of reports on the budgetary and staffing requirements of proposed policies and projects; assign projects and coordinate work of staff as appropriate; and have general accountability for the effectiveness of all operations.
  • Responsible for human resources tasks for drainage department employees including training, planning, assigning, and directing work; appraising performance; rewarding and disciplining employees; and addressing complaints and resolving problems
  • Review preliminary budgets and adjust items for conformance to anticipated needs
  • Review contracts and negotiations for major projects
  • Attend meetings to present activity reports and plans for future activities
  • Requisition equipment, materials, and supplies
  • Authorize and approve departmental expenditures
  • Serve as point of contact for all issues and as a liaison with external regulatory agencies
  • Any other duties as assigned

7. In closing, I want to thank the Commissioners and SSA for the hard work and value-added discussion that brought us to where we are today. I strongly believe, with an adjusted focus on the aforementioned recommendations, we will find our new Drainage Director. In order to ensure this is done properly, now is the time for our Human Resources Director, Mrs. Lucy Cason and her team, with the guidance of SSA, to direct the hiring process in order to accomplish the hiring of this important position for Ascension Parish Government and its citizens.

Clint Cointment