CLINTON — The East Feliciana Parish Police Jury voted 7-1 on Monday to name Barbara Vail as its parish manager, succeeding John “JR” Rouchon.
Vail, the former jury secretary, was named interim parish manager after jurors began new four-year terms on Jan. 11 but declined to reappoint Rouchon to the post.
The parish manager is the chief administrative officer for the Police Jury and directs the day-to-day operations of the jury office and other units.
Vail, 49, has been a jury employee for nearly 30 years.
Juror Sean Smith, who voted against Vail’s appointment, asked whether concerns about auditing procedures had been satisfied, and jury President Louis Kent, who did not vote on the appointment, said the Police Jury had been cleared to begin an audit of its finances for 2015. Jurors did not reveal the nature of the concerns, but they delayed a vote on Vail’s appointment last month pending a meeting with auditors about unspecified allegations.
In addition to serving as parish manager, Rouchon was the jury’s treasurer.
The jury also accepted the Personnel Committee’s recommendation to advertise for applicants for the posts of jury secretary and a new slot, assistant to the parish permit official, instead of filling the vacant position of code enforcement officer.
Rouchon asked what Vail’s salary will be, but jurors did not quote a figure, referring the question to the Finance Committee.
On another matter, the jury approved an $8,000 agreement with the Capital Region Planning Commission for assistance in updating the parish’s subdivision ordinance.
On a subdivision matter, Juror Glen Kent persuaded a majority of his colleagues to delay a decision on the final plat for an addition to Highland Meadows subdivision off La. 68 in the southern part of the parish.
Kent said he wants the Executive Committee and District Attorney Sam D’Aquilla to determine if the addition complies with all parish ordinances.
He also said the subdivision may need the East Baton Rouge Parish Planning and Zoning Commission’s approval because part of the development’s road and portions of some lots are in the neighboring parish.
The delay angered developer Oscar Zeringue and surveyors Jeff and Skip Moody, who argued that the Planning Commission had approved the development on a 7-2 vote.
Commission Chairman Richard Howell said he voted against the approval because he thought the issue should have been brought to a formal public hearing, and a group of residents in the original development appeared Monday to urge jurors to hold a public hearing before they vote.
Resident Elaine Ellerbe said jurors need to hear the concerns that residents of the existing development have with Zeringue’s work on Highland Meadows.
Jeff Moody brought up a question about Howell’s eligibility to serve on the commission, a subject he broached in a lengthy email last week. Moody questioned whether Howell is a parish landowner, which is one of the eligibility requirements for the panel.
Although the item was not on the agenda, Moody persisted until jurors asked Howell if he owned land in the parish, despite there being no record of his ownership in the Assessor’s Office.
Howell lives on about 200 acres of property off La. 68.
He said he has a one-fourth interest in the property and pays taxes on it.
He asked Glen Kent to read an article in the Louisiana Civil Code dealing with ownership of heir property, and the jury moved to adjourn the meeting.