OPELOUSAS — The St. Landry Parish Council unanimously agreed Wednesday to have an Administrative Committee review aspects of the Home Rule Charter that has been used to operate parish government since 2004.
Council member Pam Gautreau said the charter includes what she said are “gray areas” that are sometimes ambiguous and need further clarification.
Gautreau, however, did not indicate specifically which areas of the charter she feels require revision.
“I feel that we continue to by-pass (the charter),” she said. “I would like to have another look at (the charter) and after that is done, possibly allow the people to vote on some amendments.”
Gautreau called the charter “basically a copy-and-paste document with half-sentences. I would like to see a document that is more clear-cut.”
She said St. Landry’s Home Rule Charter closely resembles the one used by St. Martin Parish government.
St. Landry’s Home Rule Charter, approved by voters in 2003, replaced the Police Jury with a 13-member council and a parish president.
In an unrelated matter, the council also is asking the Administrative Committee to consider what should be done about the increasing number of bicyclists riding on parish roads and state highways inside St. Landry.
Council member Alvin Stelly said he’s concerned about the increased bike traffic, especially along La. 31 and La. 93, which adjoin St. Martin.
“Someone’s going to get killed,” Stelly said. “I don’t have nothing against bicycles. I just want to do something to help the people.”
Stelly said bike riders are causing congestion along the two state highways and he fears there may be a serious accident between them and vehicles.
Timothy LeJeune said he thinks there are state and federal laws that allow bicyclists certain latitude in traveling on public roads.
In a separate matter, the council voted to have legal adviser Lance Pitre obtain a state Attorney General’s opinion about hiring legal counsel other than the counsel appointed by the District Attorney’s Office.
Pitre told the council that any special counsel hired by the parish council or parish president Bill Fontenot first needs council approval.
Gautreau asked Fontenot whether he had paid an attorney to represent him in any judicial matters. Fontenot said that at this point he has not hired or paid any attorneys in legal matters involving him or parish government.
Pitre has served as legal adviser at no cost to parish government since his services are provided by the District Attorney’s Office.
Finally, the council approved the 2014-15 operating budget for the St. Landry Community Action Agency, which provides services such as food and home weatherization.
The budget anticipates $245,020 in state and federal revenues and $187,200 in expenses, of which $130,000 are for employee salaries.
The budget is down considerably from 2013-14, when the agency had $352,184 in revenues and expenditures of $305,600.
Part of the decline has to do with ongoing federal oversight for the past few years due to previous mismanagement.