NEW IBERIA — The Iberia Parish Council Wednesday voted unanimously to add a fine of $500 or 30 days in jail for anyone who knowingly violates the home rule charter.

The new law would penalize any employee or public official who refuses to perform a duty the charter requires, intentionally performs a duty that violates the charter, or allows an employee to intentionally refuse to perform a duty or perform a duty that violates the charter.

Parish Council President Roger Duncan said there were no specific violations the council had in mind for the new law. Councilman Jerome Fitch, who introduced the ordinance, did not attend the meeting.

The new law is being approved at the same time that Donald Washington, an attorney hired by the council, investigates Parish President Errol “Romo” Romero for violating the laws concerning hiring and firing actions he took last year.

The new law also comes two weeks after council member Troy Comeaux accused Romero of violating the charter by not following rules set up to renew the property and liability insurance contract.

Parish council legal adviser Dean Wattigny said that the law is not retroactive and will only apply to any future violations.

Romero attended the meeting but repeatedly left the meeting room and did not sit in his assigned seat.

Other items discussed during the meeting included:

ACCOUNTANTS HIRED: The council voted to hire the Wright, Moore, DeHart, Dupuis and Hutchinson, LLC, Certified Public Accountants firm to act as the parish administration’s financial director. Kim Segura left the financial director post in September. The council set aside $70,000 to pay for the accounting firm’s contract. It’s same amount as the base salary for the financial director position.