Parish advisory committee meetings set

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 19, 2010



LAPLACE – Committees charged with assisting St. John the Baptist Parish President Natalie Robottom determine the future course and direction of the parish will begin their first meetings next week, according to a parish spokesperson.

More than 60 members of Robottom’s Presidential Advisory Committee packed into the St. John council chambers in LaPlace Monday for an introductory meeting with members of the parish administration to get an overview of current functions of all parish departments.

“Monday’s meeting gave the advisory committee members a sense of where the parish stands when it comes to specific public services,” said St. John Chief Administrative Officer Marie Brown-Mercadel. “It served as an opportunity to begin the flow of ideas that could eventually work into the culminating final report.”

The advisory group is broken down into eight sub-committees that will delve into governmental ethics reform; public safety; employment and economic development; community development and neighborhoods; recreation, arts, culture and health and human services; finance; human resources; and infrastructure and capital improvements.

The group will work over the next 60 days to compile recommendations that will be written into a final report to be delivered Aug. 16. Mercadel said that written report will be the blue print for Robottom’s strategic plan for the parish, which is slated to be completed by Oct. 11.

Mercadel said the parish is looking to enter into a contract with SSA Consultants, a Baton Rouge firm that will assist the committee in the meeting and planning process and ensure that all of Robottom’s objectives for the advisory committee are met.

“We felt it was important to have an agency outside the parish help us look into what we are planning to do in the parish in the coming years,” Mercadel said. “We have 60 days to produce the report, and we need to stay on track.”

Mercadel said the firm, if hired, would keep the committees focused on “high level issues” and ensure the groups don’t get bogged down by specific details.

She said the consultants will assist committee chairs in determining long- and short-term goals for the parish.

Mercadel said SSA’s contract could be authorized Tuesday at the Parish Council meeting.

“It will be a one-year contract for $30,000,” Mercadel said. “It will expire in June 2011, but we will have the option to extend as needed.”

Mercadel said the PAC meetings will be open to the public, but no one outside of the committee will be allowed to comment on proceedings. The schedules and locations for the first meeting of each committee are:

• Finance: Monday, June 21, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Parish President’s Conference Room, 1801 W. Airline Highway, LaPlace.

• Recreation, Arts, and Culture/Health and Human Services: Wednesday, June 23, from 1-3 p.m. at Lace Reception Hall, 516 E. Airline Highway, LaPlace.

• Employment & Development: Wednesday, June 23, from 3-5 p.m. at the Parish President’s Conference Room, 1801 W. Airline Highway, LaPlace.

• Infrastructure and Capital Improvements: Wednesday, June 23, from 4-6 p.m. at the Public Works Trailer, 1801 W. Airline Highway, LaPlace.

• Human Resources: Wednesday, June 23, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Parish President’s Conference Room, 1801 W. Airline Highway, LaPlace.

• Community Development and Neighborhoods: Thursday, June 24, from 2:30-4:30 p.m. at the St. John Planning & Zoning Office, 102 E. Airline Highway, LaPlace.

• Governmental Ethics: Thursday, June 24, from 3-5 p.m. at Rotolo’ s Pizzeria, 3503 Airline Highway, Reserve.

• Public Safety: Thursday, June 24, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Emergency Operations Conference Room, 1801 W. Airline Highway, LaPlace.