Mayor-President Kip Holden has filled an opening in his administrative team with a contracted consultant, Mike Bruce, who will advise city-parish officials on parish transportation issues.

Holden has a budget for four top staff members — William Daniel, the chief administrative officer and three assistant chief administrative officers.

Two of the assistant positions are filled — one by Gwen Hamilton, who oversees parish social services and the other by John Price, who oversees legal issues and is involved with implementing the FutureBR land use plan.

In recent years, the third assistant chief administrative officer position has been left vacant. However, the Metro Council approved a $100,200 professional services contract with Stantec Consulting Services for work to be performed by Bruce, a transportation expert.

Bruce headed up the transportation side of the FutureBR land use plan, and his company, formally called ABMB Engineers before merging with Stantec, is a design team member on the Baton Rouge Loop project.

Daniel said because Bruce is working with the city-parish under contract, he’s not a city-parish employee and does not have authority over other city-parish employees.

“But I look at him as an assistant chief administrative officer, because he’s advising me just like Gwen and John do, and then I go and advise the mayor,” Daniel said.

Daniel said contracting the position out allowed the Mayor’s Office to work with someone they couldn’t have afforded to hire directly.

The annual estimated savings generated by using a contracted consultant as oppose to filling the vacant position is $47,000, according to documents provided to the Metro Council.

“Mike brings tremendous transportation experience at the engineering level, management level, funding level, working with the state and federal government,” Daniel said. “We could never compete with the private sector to hire someone like that.”

Bruce said he was asked to consult with offices including the Mayor’s Office, Department of Public Works and the Planning Commission to “unify transportation issues.”

“We’ve kind of transitioned from years ago as a small rural town into an urban center with suburbs and we have not had a smooth transition as far as transportation,” Bruce said. “The concept is that I can come in and help them make decisions to organize and manage pieces that work with the transportation system.”

Daniel said transportation issues Bruce will weigh in on could range from road improvements to public transit to a rail system.

Bruce has more than 30 years of experience as a transportation consultant, and a history working with the city-parish.