Labat takes another job

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 9, 2007

St. John director of Planning and Zoning decides to take position with South Central Planning


Editor and Publisher

LAPLACE – The first of what might be a number of changes in St. John Parish administrative positions has apparently occurred, with a full slate of parish elections set for this fall.

Adrienne Labat, director of Planning and Zoning for St. John, recently left her position to join South Central Planning, the company which has been hired by St. John to handle all the new building inspections that have been mandated by the state.

Labat said there were &#8220a number of factors” that led to her moving to South Central, the agency she had dealt with extensively for over a year as they secured the contract to handle building inspections for St. John, and five other parishes in the region.

However, one key factor was the lack of a promise from St. John Parish President candidate Natalie Robottom to assure her job would still be there, should Robottom win that election in October.

&#8220There were other reasons besides that, which all worked together, to make me decide to leave,” Labat told L’Observateur. &#8220But the fact that Natalie wouldn’t promise me my position was certainly one key reason I decided to leave.”

Robottom, one of a handful of candidates for the parish president position being vacated by Nickie Monica, said she considered Labat to be &#8220very competent and someone who has done a lot of good work for us in Planning and Zoning,”

However Robottom said she did not want to commit any jobs in any departments at this point, even for those such as Labat who have been longtime parish employees.

Labat is currently studying to become one of the new certified building inspectors for the South Central group and has passed two of 12 certifications.

&#8220This was just a real good opportunity for me, with the chance for advancement in the future,” she added.

Monica called the loss of Labat &#8220a casualty of term limits,” since he is leaving office for that reason.

&#8220Any new person coming into office with a new administration can’t be guaranteed a job. So the thing with Adrienne leaving might not be the last person who goes for this reason, since we have until the fall for the election,” he explained.

Tim Jackson is currently heading the Planning and Zoning Department, and the parish is advertising for someone to fill the position permanently.

&#8220Even though it is a short term position until the election, we have some applicants for the job,” Monica noted.

Both Monica and Robottom acknowledged their share of headaches so far with the state mandated change to the new building inspections as of January, 2007.

&#8220I’m not happy with some of these state laws since they don’t all seem necessary,” Monica said. &#8220But it’s the law so we have to abide by it.”

As for the job done by South Central Planning, which still does not have its own certified inspections and is using third party inspectors, Monica said he is satisfied with the pace of the transition.

&#8220The complaints we are getting are not because of the inspections, but because of the cost for people to follow the new codes,” he remarked. &#8220The process is more difficult now and any transition like this will take time to smooth out.”

Robottom admitted that the Planning and Zoning staff still needs more training to be aware of all the new regulations, and the parish also plans another public forum to educate the public.

&#8220We had one in-service for the public, but of course people don’t care to go unless they are building a house at that time. So plenty of people never attended the last one,” Robottom said. &#8220But we will have more to try and educate people.”

She viewed the fact that there have been no complaints to her office from builders as a sign the new regulations are being accepted pretty well.