A committee created to review the St. Tammany Parish Charter will assemble for the first time Tuesday, beginning a process that could present voters with proposed changes to the 15-year-old document.
The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. in the Parish Council chambers on Koop Drive in Mandeville.
Parish President Pat Brister will make a short presentation, then ask the 11-member committee to elect a chairperson and decide on meeting dates.
Brister has said she wants any proposed charter changes to go on the ballot in a high-turnout election. Parish Councilman Steve Stefancik, who is on the committee, has said he would like to see them on the ballot with next fall’s gubernatorial election.
Voters adopted the home rule charter by a narrow margin in 1998 at an election that had only 21 percent turnout.
That vote scrapped the parish’s police jury in favor of the parish council/ president form of government. But the document made no provision for periodic reviews — something that Brister has said is needed to ensure that the charter still fits the needs of a growing parish.
The Parish Council passed a resolution earlier this month creating the review committee.
Committee members say they expect to discuss issues like term limits, the size of the council and the addition of at-large members, as well as the use of the District Attorney’s Office to provide legal representation for the council.
Brister has said she would like to see a provision for an automatic 10-year review of the charter.
Brister had two appointments to the panel, and she chose Ed Dillard, who served on the original charter commission in the 1990s, and Jeannine Meeds, of the St. Tammany Parish League of Women Voters. The Parish Council voted to appoint two of its own members, Stefancik and Richard Tanner. The parish’s legislative delegation also had an appointment, Col. Evans Spiceland.
Various groups, including the parish’s two chambers of commerce, appointed the remaining members: Danny Shaw, Michele Blanchard, Andrew Gibson, Rene Soule, Van Joffrion and Antonio “Tony’’ LeMond.
Brister has said public input will be critical to the review, and a link to the charter is available online at www.stpgov.org/home-rule-charter.
Another group of meetings, dealing with the parish’s 2015 budget, will get underway next month. The council’s Finance Committee will hold five hearings in the council chambers, all beginning at 6 p.m., with several departments slated to appear per meeting.
The first session, on Oct. 20, will review the proposed budgets for the Parish Council and the Public Information Office, followed at half-hour intervals by Animal Control; Culture, Recreation and Tourism; Public Works; and Engineering.
On Oct. 22, the committee will look at Brister’s budget and the departments included under her office, such as the chief administrative officer and Economic Development. That will be followed by Finance and Data Management, Procurement, and Information Technology.
The Oct. 23 hearing will cover other government agencies such as the Coroner’s Office, the Assessor’s Office and the library system.
The Oct. 27 hearing will cover the Legal Department, Code Enforcement, Human Resources, Grants, and Development and Permits.
The final hearing, on Oct. 30, will review Environmental Services and Tammany Utilities, the Office of Emergency Preparedness, the Department of Health and Hospitals, and Facilities.
The proposed 2015 budget is available at www.stpgov.org/departments/finance. Hard copies are available at all library branches.
Follow Sara Pagones on Twitter, @spagonesadvocat.