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Council to look into hiring practices

Written by Emily Bell on . Posted in Local

The Port Allen city council will vote on several new ordinances at the next regular council meeting on March 12, ordinances which will attempt to remedy some of the findings of a 2012-2013 city audit report and which will attempt to pass measures previously vetoed by former mayor Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter.

The Louisiana Legislative Auditor (LLA) officially released the report on Feb. 12. CPA Howard Tull originally presented the report in a city council meeting on Dec. 23.

The report from Dec. 23 to Feb. 12 remains unchanged. That report said that Slaughter “hired personnel without following the procedures outlined” in a city ordinance, exposing the city “to possible legal action by applicants who were not considered for positions.”

The city council will now take up an ordinance “modifying the language of the city’s current hiring ordinance.” Councilman Garry Hubble said the ordinance would provide “more teeth” to the current ordinance, which offers no penalty if hiring protocols are not followed. The new ordinance, Hubble said, would render any hire invalid that does not comply with hiring protocols. The ordinance would not be retroactive, CFO Audrey McCain said.

The council will also take up an ordinance “setting salaries of elected officials and other municipal officers” and an ordinance “to clarify department head positions already established within the city of Port Allen.” Previously, the two ordinances were one when Slaughter vetoed them.

The introduction of the salary ordinance was unanimous, but the introduction of the department head ordinance was not. Councilmen Hubble, R.J. Loupe and Hugh “Hootie” Riviere voted in favor. Councilman Brandon Brown and Councilwoman Ray Helen Lawrence voted in opposition.

Riviere had raised a question to Tull in December regarding having two signatures on all city checks.

Tull said, “As a technical issue, it’s not required,” but praised its benefit as an internal control.

From early June until Slaughter vacated office in late November, Slaughter would not allow McCain to sign for the city’s bank accounts. Instead of being able to access the accounts online, McCain said she had to rely on mailed bank statements.

On Feb. 12, the council unanimously approved the introduction of an ordinance requiring two signatures on all city bank accounts.

The council also authorized the mayor “to sign a letter of engagement with Kean Miller law firm for the purpose of updating the city’s employee handbook.”

The employee handbook was previously updated in 1995 and again in 2005, but the 2005 revision stayed at Phelps Dunbar law firm and never made it to city books, mayor Lynn Robertson confirmed.

Robertson said Kean Miller now has the 2005 revision and the 1995 handbook and will update accordingly.

The city council also renamed city payroll clerk Robin Ackerman’s title to Human Resources Director/Head Payroll Clerk and reclassified her pay step and grade from a 111 R to a 117 E, or from about $46,457 annually to about $48,127 annually, which equates to about a $69 bimonthly raise.

The council unanimously re-appointed CFO Audrey McCain as municipal clerk, and they also met in executive session to discuss the pending litigation between McCain and Slaughter.

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