Taking a bite out of the ABA Elephant: Part IV (Parish Manager powers taken from the Council)

With A Better Ascension again scheduled to take center stage at Monday’s Home Rule Charter Revision Committee meeting we continue to take a bite out of the ABA elephant.

NOTE: For comparison’s sake ABA’s proposal 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.  ABA’s 3-03 includes 13 paragraphs as opposed to ten in the current charter.  Our commentary is interspersed where deemed appropriate.

Section 3-03: Powers and Duties of the Parish Manager.

-compared to-

Section 3-03: Powers and Duties of the President

NOTE:  Currently the Charter includes 3-03 (C) The president with the consent of the governing authority may serve as the head of one or more departments, offices, or agencies; and 3-03(D) He shall receive only the compensation payable to him as parish president.  Neither has a corresponding proposal in ABA’s proposal.

A.  The parish manager shall be the chief executive officer of the parish and shall be responsible for the supervision of all parish departments, agencies and offices, except as otherwise provided by state or federal law.

A. Except as otherwise provided in this charter, the president shall be chief executive officer of the parish.

B.  The parish manager shall have the power to appoint, discipline or terminate any and all parish employees and department heads in accordance with the human resources policy of the parish and in accordance with applicable state and federal law.

B.  The president shall have the power to appoint, subject to ratification, by resolution, by at least a majority of the members of the governing authority, such officers and department heads as may be provided by this charter or by ordinance who shall serve in office until their resignation or removal, from office as herein provided; see also

E.  The president shall have the power to remove all employees; and

F.  However, the governing authority shall have the power to reinstate any employee who has been removed by the president, but only upon a two-thirds vote of the members of the governing authority (present at the meeting).  Bold language was adopted by amendment of the Charter by voters in 2017.

  • Proposed language is one example, there are many more, of an appointed parish manager with powers in excess of the current president and stripping the Council of existing authority.
  • It should be noted that ABA’s proposal would eliminate Ascension’s Human Resources Department unless…parish manager may recommend to the governing authority the establishment of a Human Resources Department.  Cross-reference ABA’s proposed revision in Section 5-04.B. which we will address in the coming days.

C.  The parish manager shall submit monthly reports to the governing authority on parish finances and may require any parish officer or employee to report to the governing authority when necessary for the proper administration of the parish.

G.  The president shall submit monthly reports to the governing authority on parish finances and may require any parish officer or employee to report to the governing authority when necessary for the proper administration of the parish.

D.  The parish manager shall prepare and submit the annual budgets and perform such other duties as may be prescribed by this charter or by ordinance.

H.  The president shall prepare and submit the annual budgets and perform such other duties as may be prescribed by this charter or by ordinance.

E.  The parish manager shall monitor all special boards, commissions, agencies, districts or any device having governmental functions and report to the governing authority any fiscal and operational matters as deemed necessary.

I.  The president shall monitor all special boards, commissions, agencies, districts or any device having governmental functions and report to the governing authority any fiscal and operational matters as deemed necessary.

F.  Subject to the appropriation of governing authority, the parish manager shall establish the salary for each parish employee, except as otherwise provided in the charter, which may be accomplished through the development, implementation and administration of a salary schedule adopted by the governing authority.

  • There is no corresponding Charter provision whereby the president “shall establish” employee salaries.  Currently, Section 4-15 vests the power in the Council; The governing authority may fix the compensation of all employees…

G.  The parish manager shall oversee the development, implementation and administration of a personnel policy for all parish employees, which policy shall comply with all applicable state and federal law.

  • There is no corresponding Charter provision.  Currently these duties are the province of the Personnel Director over Human Resources.  Cross-reference Section 5-04 Human Resources Department.

H.  The parish manager shall be responsible for proposing to the governing authority mulit-year (sic) budget priority plans.

  • There is no corresponding Charter provision.
  • ABA’s idea was made part of the discussion when the Charter Revision Committee considered existing Article III, and forwarded for possible recommendation to the Council.

I.  The parish manager shall be responsible for proposing an organizational structure for parish government, including recommending the establishment, merger, or elimination of parish departments, offices, agencies and the supervisory and operational positions associated therewith, except as otherwise mandated by state or federal law.

  • These powers are currently reserved to the governing authority.  Cross-reference Article 4-12 which will be examined in detail in future issues.

J.  The parish manager shall be considered the “parish president” under all applicable state and federal law pertaining to homeland security or emergency preparedness, including declaration and operation under a state of emergency.

  • There is no corresponding Charter provision.

K. The parish manager shall be considered the “parish president” under all applicable state and federal law pertaining to homeland security or emergency preparedness, including declaration and operation under a state of emergency.

  • There is no corresponding Charter provision.

L.  The parish manager may delegate any of the authority vested herein to department heads or other parish employees.

  • There is no corresponding Charter provision though, in practice, the president exercises such powers.

M.  The parish manager shall designate a parish employee to exercise the powers of the parish manager in the case of his absence, incapacity or a vacancy in the office of parish manager.

Section 3-08.  When the president expects to be absent from the parish for more than 72 consecutive hours, the president shall notify the chairman of the governing authority in writing of the expected duration of the absence.  The powers and duties of the office shall be exercised by the chief administrative officer or in the absence of the chief administrative officer, the president’s designee…If the absence of the president extends more than 60 consecutive days, the office shall become vacant and filled in accordance with Section 3-07 (Vacancies).

  • So, ABA is proposing to allow the parish manager to “designate a parish employee,” any parish employee (?), to exercise power even after the parish manager’s office is vacated.  Power to designate one’s successor in power is usually reserved to hereditary dictatorships and, sometimes, Mafia families.

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