City presents final offer to Pointe Coupee Parish over management of Civic Center _lowres

William H. Scott Civic Center in New Roads

The city of New Roads has given Pointe Coupee Parish until Aug. 1 to accept its final proposal on how the two will manage the William H. Scott Civic Center.

If the parish fails to accept the agreement, Jeff Barbin, the attorney representing New Roads in the case, said the city would walk away from any further negotiations regarding the Civic Center.

New Roads is demanding the parish give it the authority to hire temporary workers without requiring the approval of parish leaders.

“When the Police Jury ran the Civic Center all those years ago, we never called the city to ask who they wanted us to hire; we did all the hiring,” Parish Police Jury President Melanie Bueche said Wednesday. “They’re running the Civic Center now, and I say, just let them do it.”

However, Police Juror Cornell Dukes said he opposes the city’s proposal because he is against staffing the center with temporary workers.

“It’s a shame the community has to suffer because these people don’t want to put local people to work with full-time jobs,” Dukes said Wednesday. “They will go to any length to keep temp services and keep local people from getting full-time employee benefits.”

For the past several years, both the city and the parish shared in many of the Civic Center’s operating costs through the Civic Center Commission.

The joint commission, which included two members from the Police Jury and two from the New Roads City Council and the city’s Mayor Robert Myer serving as chairman, dissolved in May 2014 when the parish pulled out after tensions mounted between the city and the parish.

Since then, attorneys for both sides have been trying to hash out a new agreement, but constant back-and-forth bickering over details contained in several drafts have soured negotiations.

The Police Jury is expected to discuss the matter at its meeting July 28.

In a July 17 email, Barbin chided parish leaders for “unprofessional behavior” over comments some members made during the jury’s July 14 meeting. Barbin sent the email to Dannie Garrett, who is representing the parish.

At that meeting, the Police Jury proposed an agreement that would require the city to produce monthly bank statements for the commission’s account, which some jurors said the city never produced even after repeated requests.

The Police Jury also said it wanted to keep an amendment requiring a super-majority vote from the five-member commission for any employment decisions.

“The civic center simply must be able to hire temporary workers, and it must be able to do so without the vote of the commission,” Barbin wrote in the email to Garrett. “Otherwise a commission meeting would need to be called weekly, which is ludicrous.”

Myer has said hiring temporary workers is more economically efficient than having full-time staff.

“I’m not going to change my position until I can see some numbers proving that,” Dukes said. “I want to see what the hourly wage of that temp service is.”

City officials said Wednesday that temporary employees who work at the Scott Civic Center are paid $10 to $11 an hour.

“You cannot hire everyone as permanent employees and have nothing for them to do,” Bueche said. “I understand where (the mayor) is coming from, but you have to keep costs down. I haven’t spoke to anyone else on the Police Jury, but I think everyone understands that fact.”

Follow Terry Jones on Twitter, @tjonesreporter.