St. Charles Council rejects contract proposal

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Staff Reporter

HAHNVILLE – The St. Charles Council voted down a request by Councilman Paul Hogan that would have required a council staff member to sign off on engineering contracts totaling less than $20,000 out of concerns that it would slow progress in the parish.

Hogan said he asked for the measure to make sure that the council is aware of contracts that they have no say in approving. He said he also wanted to ensure that future parish councils do not make the same mistakes of the past.

Councilman Shelley Tastet, who argued against the measure, said that the proposal adds another unneeded step in the selection process, delaying the time it takes for Parish President V.J. St. Pierre to conduct business.

“It’s just another way to tie V.J.’s hands,” said Tastet. “We don’t have time to do that.”

Hogan argued back that all he was asking for was to have a witnessing signature from someone who works right down the hall from the Parish President. Tastet did not respond to a question from Hogan about how the measure would tie the hands of St. Pierre.

St. Charles Chief Administrative Officer Tim Vial, who worked under former President Albert Laque, said his former boss often went beyond the requirements of the current ordinance and informed the entire council, instead of just the two at-large members.

St. Pierre also spoke up and reminded Hogan that he is not the previous president, and this is not the previous council. He also said to Hogan that future councils have the ability to come right in and change things just as he is doing.

When asked by the council to share his opinion, Director of Public Works Sam Scholle concluded that the councilmembers are spending too much time trying to determine what not to do instead of doing what should be done.

“The people elected 10 new people to run this council,” said Scholle. “It is time you started working together instead of undermining each other.”

Scholle’s words received a spirited reaction from the audience.

The council voted the measure down 6-2, with Councilman Hogan and Councilwoman Carolyn Schexnaydre casting the only votes in favor. Councilman Dennis Nuss, who left the meeting early, was not present for the vote.

In other action from Monday’s meeting, the council voted to approve a $156,000 annual contract with C.J. Savoie and associates for consulting on engineering projects in the parish.

The measure, which St. Pierre said would save the parish money in the long run, was approved unanimously.