At long last the Ascension Home Rule Charter Revision Committee’s agenda includes the elephant, A Better Ascension’s (ABA) revamp of the 25-year old document. Pressed for time, Council Chairman Bill Dawson imposed a May 31 (Thursday) deadline if ABA’s charter is to appear on the ballot this year, will the committee be expected to vote tonight? So much for “thoroughly vetting” the proposal.
Having progressed through Article V: Administration, we rap it up in time for 5:00 p.m. when the committee convenes.
For comparison’s sake ABA’s proposed changes will appear in red text. Where corresponding language to ABA’s proposal exists in Ascension’s current Home Rule Charter exists, it will be included in italics, with commentary when deemed appropriate.
Article VI: Ordinances and Resolutions includes minimal material changes.
Under Section 6-01: Acts Requiring an Ordinance ABA would the qualifying language in red to existing paragraph:
14. An act of the governing authority which is to have the force of law shall only be enacted by ordinance. An act requiring an ordinance shall include but not be limited to one which creates, abolishes or consolidates any parish department, office, agency, or provides for the consolidation and transfer or any of the functions of such department, office or agency as recommended by the parish manager.
ARTICLE VII: FINANCE
(Sections 7-01 through 7-04, essentially unchanged)
NOTE: ABA’s proposes to codify elements of Louisiana statutory law which are, in our view, superfluous and unnecessarily redundant.
Section 7-05: Multi-year Budget Priority Plans
A. The parish manager shall be responsible for providing a proposed Multi-year Budget Priority Plan to the governing authority. The plan shall be submitted within the first 60 days of each fiscal year.
B. The proposed Multi-year Budget Priority Plan shall include a recommendation of budget priorities for a period of not less than three years in the future.
C. The proposed Multi-year Budget Priority Plan shall provide for the most pressing expenditure needs in the parish by nature and category, with a recommendation of the priority that each such expenditure should hold.
- ABA’s four experts all claimed “policy making” would still be the province of the elected Parish Council. How does that jibe with a parish manager, hired from who knows where with zero understanding of Ascension history, deciding which expenditures are “most pressing.”
D. The governing authority shall consider and adopt a Multi-year Budget Priority Plan, by the 180th day of the fiscal year in which it is submitted. The governing authority shall consider the proposed plan and may amend such proposed plan as it deems appropriate.
- But the “governing authority…may amend such proposed plan?” Which of you remember those dark police jury days?
E. The adopted Multi-year Budget Priority shall inform manager in the development of the operating and capital budgets for the (sic) each fiscal year.
F. Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, in the first year of the implementation of the first parish manager under this charter, the proposed Multi-year Budget Priority Plan shall be submitted to the governing authority within 180 days of the parish manager taking office.
NOTE: There is no corresponding section in the current charter. The Charter Revision Committee has proposed a similar amendment to the existing charter, tasking the parish president with proposing a multi-year plan.
(Articles VIII: General Provisions; IX: Amendment or Repeal are unchanged)
Section 10-01: Effective Date (ABA would add the text in red)
Following a referendum at which this charter is approved by a majority of those electors of the Parish of Ascension voting in such election, this charter shall become effective on the first Monday after January 1, 2020. Upon approval of the charter by the voters of Ascension Parish, the incumbent
police jurors Ascension Parish officers shall continue to serve in that capacity until the time the first president assumes office Parish Council that takes office in January of 2020 assumes office. The Chief Administrative Officer at the time the charter becomes fully effective shall assumes (sic) the powers of interim parish manager until such time as the governing authority appoints an interim parish manager. A nominating committee shall be called into being and appointed by March 1, 2020 and the process of selecting a parish manager shall commence, as provided herein.
- The text was not updated since ABA revised its methodology to select a parish manager. The latest version envisions a national search without the requirement of a nominating committee.
Section 10-02: 2019 Elections
The election of the members of the Parish Council shall be conducted on schedule in 2019, however, there shall be no election held for the office of Parish President in 2019.
Section 10-02: Election of the President (which we will omit)
Section 10-03 (incorporates Paragraphs A, B and C of current Section 10-02) Continuation of Actions, Franchises, Contracts, Licenses and Ordinances; Repeal of Conflicting Ordinances; Existing Departments, Offices and Agencies.
A. All writs, actions, suits, civil or criminal proceedings, liabilities, prosecution, judgements, sentences, contracts, franchises, debts, and obligations due by the parish, rights or causes of action, claims, demands, titles and rights existing on the effective date of this charter shall continue unaffected.
B. All existing ordinances not in conflict with this charter shall remain in full force and effect until amended or repealed by the governing authority, or until they expire by their own limitation. all acts of the prior governing authority and all administrative rules and regulations not in conflict with this charter shall remain in full force and effect until changed or repealed.
C. All existing ordinances in conflict with this charter are repealed upon its effective date.
D. All parish departments, offices and agencies in place at the time this charter becomes fully effective shall continue and remain in place, until contrary action of the governing authority as authorized by this charter, but subject to the personnel authority of the parish manager as provided in this charter.
E. Within the first year of term, the first full-time parish manager shall make a recommendation to the governing authority with regard to the reorganization of parish departments, offices, agencies and the establishment of the personnel policy of the parish.