SORRENTO — The Town Council has scheduled a public hearing and special meeting July 22 when it will most likely act on two proposals involving the fate of the town’s Police Department.
The meeting will focus on a proposed ordinance calling for a special election Nov. 4 allowing voters to decide not only whether to eliminate the town’s elected position of police chief but also whether to abolish the Police Department.
The second proposal involves amending the 2014-15 fiscal budget, with the town funding the police department through July but drastically cutting the funding after the month’s end.
Town Attorney Matthew Percy warned the Town Council it is up against a tight deadline by holding a July 22 meeting because the Secretary of State’s office has set July 23 as the deadline to place propositions on the Nov. 4 ballot.
Already on that ballot is a decision by voters on who will fill the remainder of former Police Chief Earl Theriot Jr.’s term, which expires June 30, 2017 — if any candidates qualify to run.
The police chief’s office has been vacant since February when Theriot resigned prior to pleading guilty to lying to an FBI agent.
To date, no one has announced their candidacy to run for the position. The official qualifying period for the election is Aug. 20-22.
Theriot is scheduled for sentencing July 11. He faces up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and other conditions.
The proposed budget amendment to be discussed July 22 would move $132,000 from the police department’s proposed $367,350 budget to pay for Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office protection from July 1 to Nov. 30.
The amendment also would move the police chief’s salary to drainage funds for five months and remove line items for a part-time clerk and police officer salaries.
If the Town Council passes the proposed amendment, Assistant Police Ricky Smith’s position would be terminated.
The public hearing will be held at 6 p.m. July 22.