The Jefferson Parish Council on Wednesday approved a new contract worth up to $350,000 for the consultant who helped the parish hammer out a deal to lease its public hospital in Marrero to a private operator.
The vote to approve the contract for Pennsylvania-based hospital mergers and acquisitions expert Joshua Nemzoff was 5-0.
Councilmen Chris Roberts and Ricky Templet — who in the past opposed extending a previous work agreement with Nemzoff — were not present for Wednesday’s special meeting.
The contract guarantees Nemzoff $275,000 for seven months of work helping the parish finalize a $600 million deal that closed last year for New Orleans-based LCMC Health to lease West Jefferson Medical Center.
Nemzoff can be retained for an additional three months for $75,000.
Council members said it was important to bring Nemzoff back onboard after former Parish Attorney Deborah Foshee and her deputy, Edward Rapier, left parish government earlier this year. Aside from Nemzoff, whose previous contract expired last year, Foshee and Rapier did most of the work on the hospital deal for the parish, council members said.
However, Keith Conley, the top aide to Parish President Mike Yenni, who took office in January, said Foshee’s and Rapier’s departures weren’t really factors. He said it is customary for consultants like Nemzoff to stay on until deals are finalized.
Nemzoff frequently clashed with Roberts and former Parish Councilman Elton Lagasse before the West Jefferson deal closed, primarily over the $1 million the consultant charged the parish for his work on the transaction. But most council members praised him for ensuring the parish got a favorable deal for the financially ailing West Bank hospital.
Nemzoff pointed out that he initially proposed a flat fee that was almost $400,000 less than his final bill. After parish Inspector General David McClintock questioned the wisdom of the flat-fee arrangement, the parish put Nemzoff on an hourly rate that turned out to be more costly.
The Parish Council asked McClintock for his opinion on Nemzoff’s new contract, but he declined to comment.