Former Ascension Parish planning director drops appeal of firing after parish agrees to rehire him and let him resign _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND shot 07/22/10 Trax#00022458a Ascension Master Plan Director Ricky Compton stands at the intersection of La. Highway 61 and La. Highway 42 during morning traffic.

Former Ascension Parish Planning Director Ricky Compton, fired in early March, was rehired and allowed to resign March 30 with back pay, he said.

The move avoided a possibly public appeal hearing that had been slated to go before the Parish Council on Thursday night in Donaldsonville.

Compton issued a statement earlier this week that he was withdrawing his appeal after the administration had agreed to rehire him and allow him to resign from his post.

“The purpose of my appeal request was not to fight for a job where I was not wanted but rather for the ability to be reinstated so that I could resign and have the termination removed from my record,” Compton said in the statement issued Monday.

He said Friday he had started applying for jobs and one of the first questions he was being asked is whether he had been terminated and why.

In the process, Compton earned $5,186 in pay after taxes retroactively from March 4 to March 30, plus another $367.49 in earned vacation time for the period.

Compton’s termination on March 4, a Friday, while Parish Council members and Parish President Kenny Matassa were out of town raised questions and ire from some on the council who saw Compton as a valuable resource on development matters and a major impact fee plan on the docket.

Though the council can review personnel matters on appeal, parish employees generally serve at the parish president’s pleasure. Matassa, who promised in the campaign last year to cut red tape for new projects, is still shaping his administration since taking office in January. Matassa has named longtime zoning official Lance Brock as interim planning director.

Compton, who worked for the parish for eight years, was, at times, a divisive figure who once drew withering criticism from those who wanted to keep a tighter rein on development during the debate over a failed master plan update in 2009 and 2010.

Later, he saw support from some of his onetime critics but rankled developers, especially after his staff began recommending denial of proposed neighborhoods last year because of poor infrastructure or failure to comply with the master plan.

As personnel departures have happened this year under the Matassa administration, parish government has refused to acknowledge that some employees are no longer on the public payroll.

Asked about Compton’s rehiring and resignation, parish government spokesman Lester Kenyon said April 1 that the parish does not comment on personnel matters.

As part of Compton’s dismissal, the parish paid him $11,842.99 after taxes for unused but earned vacation time. The check was cut March 18, before Compton announced the plan to allow him to resign.

Pay stubs obtained from a public records request filed with parish government show he had 324.58 hours of vacation time that had not been used.

Follow David J. Mitchell on Twitter, @NewsieDave.