Code enforcement staff is short handed for St. John Parish

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – After another round of losing code enforcement officers, St. John Parish officials are looking to revamp the position in an effort to make it more appealing and more functional for the parish.

“We want to change the persona of the position of code enforcement officer,” said St. John Public Information officer Buddy Boe. “In the past, the officers reacted at the whim of a complaint from a council member, which makes them appear as an enemy in the parish. We want the officers to help build up the parish instead of tear it down.”

Boe said some of the administrative duties of the officers will change, leading to an increase of enforcement functions. Boe said this will allow the officers to do a more proactive job of policing building code violations.

“We will no longer have this practice of ‘selective enforcement,’” said Boe.

St. John Parish has had a history of high turnover rate with the code enforcement officer position. The parish went without any code enforcement officers for over a week this past month, before the recent hire of LaPlace retiree Lewis Gray.

Boe said much of the problem comes from the fact that the job is only part time, and does not pay well.

The parish hopes to remedy the problem with a slight pay increase, $1,500 a month instead of $1,250, and new responsibilities.

According to the job description, the officers deal with noise, fireworks, animal control, drainage violations, liquor permits, public signs, load limitations, illegally parked or abandoned vehicles, and building regulation violations, but the parish wants them to also begin looking at new construction in the parish.

St. John Chief Administrative Officer Pat McTopy told the council at a recent Finance Committee meeting that the new administration is in the process of interviewing and hiring three more code enforcement officers to complement Gray. He said he hopes to have at least two more names by March 11.

 The parish typically staffs four officers at any given time, with two from division A, and two from division B.