New appointees, legislators assume St. John leadership

Published 12:11 am Wednesday, January 13, 2016

EDGARD — A host of new elected and administrative leaders officially took their seats of leadership Monday as the St. John the Baptist Parish Council conducted its first meeting of 2016.

Parish President Natalie Robottom takes her oath of office Monday.

Parish President Natalie Robottom takes her oath of office Monday.

The meeting took place in the St. John Parish Courthouse after the inauguration of Parish President Natalie Robottom and Council members.

One of the first things on the agenda was the announcement of Robottom’s appointed positions, which included Vince Lucia remaining as Robottom’s chief financial officer and Laverne Saulny taking over for Michael Coburn as chief administrative officer.

Robottom said Coburn is no longer part of her staff.

“CAO is a Presidential Appointment,” Robottom said. “Michael Coburn’s term ended on Monday at noon and Laverne Saulny was appointed to the position of Chief Administrative Officer for the 2016 term to move the Parish’s agenda forward.”

Robottom said she is  eager to see Saulny do a little bit more than what she was involved in before.

“(Saulny) did a little economic development, she did a little purchasing and obviously helped manage quite a few of our events,” Robottom said. “She also put us in touch with funding entities that we think will benefit the Parish.”

Saulny was previously the director of purchasing and procurement.

Parish Council members voted in favor of Marvin Perrilloux becoming the new Council chairman, Jaclyn Hotard the new finance chair and Lennix Madere Jr. as vice finance chair. Members also voted in favor of Robottom’s of her department head recommendations.

Director of communications is Baileigh Helm, director of economic development is Torri Buckles, director of health and human services is Rhonda Lemons, director of human resources is Nykya Freemont, director of parks and recreation is Kerry Watkins, director of planning and zoning is Alexander Carter, director of public safety is Jobe Boucavlt, director of public works is Brian Nunes and director of utilities is Blake Fogleman. The Council unanimously approved those positions.

There is one department head vacancy, that for purchasing and procurement.

Robottom said she plans to fill the director’s opening, adding the position is important and she doesn’t want to make a snap judgment.

“I definitely want to put the right person there,” she said.

Former Communications Director Paige Falgoust’s last day was Friday. Helm previously served as an assistant to Falgoust. Robottom said the Parish is looking to fill Helm’s previous position; however, some details are being worked out.

“We are looking at whether a public information officer would be more appropriate,” Robottom said. “Once we decide, we will fill the position. What we have found is that over the years with the 24/7 involvement they have with public safety, with the work of the Parish and other things, it requires a lot more if we are going to continue to get that information out to the residents in a timely manner. There needs to be at least two people there.”

Without discussion, St. John Council members voted unanimously in favor of setting an election this Spring for the renewal of special taxed for the St. John Library System and Health Unit.

The elections are April 9, with polls open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Early voting would run from March 26 through April 2, expect for March 27 because it’s a Sunday.

One of the propositions calls for the tax renewal of 9.94 mills on all property in St. John Parish subject to taxation for 10 years, beginning in 2018.

Money generated from the tax is earmarked for maintaining, constructing and operating the public libraries in St. John Parish.

The other proposition calls for the continuance of a .96 mills tax for 10 years, beginning in 2018, which would generate $433,000 annually to maintain and operate the parish’s public health unit.

The St. John Health Unit is a Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals run facility located at 473 Central Avenue in Reserve.

The St. John Government owns and maintains the building, but services provided are federally funded.