St. John job cuts possible

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 1, 2004

Council member confirms need for layoffs


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – With a drop in parish sales taxes and an increase in expenses, St. John the Baptist Parish officials are speculating about layoffs and cuts.

The streets of LaPlace have been buzzing lately with talk about financial woes within the parish and parish employees are questioning whether or not they will lose their jobs and/or benefits.

However, Parish President Nickie Monica and one parish councilman are still not committing to whether or not the layoffs are definite.

Parish Councilman Sean Roussel said, “There’s a lot of cuts we’re going to have to make in a lot of areas. You have to run government like a business. When business is in trouble, adjustments have to be made.”

Roussel, standing outside his River Forest Subdivision home Friday morning, said the parish has seen a drop in sales taxes and an increase in parish expenditures.

“The budget is coming this week. We will review it, make recommendations and enact change. There will be some things in there (the budget) that will require the parish to make cuts. We will make suggestions as how to handle shortfalls,” said Roussel.

The councilman said the situation is not pleasant.

Roussel added, “We ideally do not want to lay somebody off. But we have to do what we have to do and I believe it is going to come.”

A certain parish official, who did not wish to be named, asserted the parish is “broke.” He maintained there would have to be a layoff of parish employees and it would involve at least 15 percent of parish employees.

At the Tuesday night Parish Council meeting, Councilman Richard Dale Wolfe asked Monica if there was going to be any layoffs involving parish employees.

Monica said officials are presently working on the budget. He explained there were several parish workers preparing to retire and asserted these retirements could reduce or eliminate the need for cuts.

Monica and Chief Administrative Officer Natalie Robottom were called later in the week and asked for additional comments.

While Robottom could not be reached, Monica said he would not answer any more questions pertaining to layoffs and cuts at this time. He said Jeff Clement, the parish financial officer could best answer any questions relating to the financial position of the parish.

Clement could not be reached. His secretary said he was on vacation.

Councilman Ronnie Smith said he was informed by Robottom, around noon on Friday, that there would be no layoffs through December.

According to Smith, Robottom told him, “layoffs will probably come in 2005 – if the budget can not be balanced.”

Smith said, “I am looking into alternatives other than layoffs. My concerns are with the parish, the parish government and parish employees – including their families.”