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St. John Parish opening new government home: Single stop for utility billing & community needs

LAPLACE — St. John the Baptist Parish government divisions will begin relocating to the new administrative building in phases next month, creating a one-stop shop for utility billing and other community needs.

Totaling 44,500 square feet, the new facility aims to increase productivity and collaboration in an environment that leaves room to grow, according to communications director Baileigh Rebowe Helm.

Planning and zoning will be the first division to move to the facility in mid-September, relocating from the office on the corner of Airline Highway and Main Street.

Daron Cooper and Corey Briggs look over building plans in the new and expanded St. John Parish Council Chamber.

Helm said the Main Street facility would shut down after utility billing is relocated, and the Arcuri Center of LaPlace will no longer be utilized once Clerk of Court functions move over to the new building on West Airline Highway.

Finance, registration, the Assessor’s office, human resources and the Parish Council chamber are all moving just across the parking lot from the existing Percy Hebert administrative structure at 1801 W. Airline Highway, which will continue to accommodate the Emergency Operations Center.

Parks and Recreation, Health and Human Services and Public Works offices are not relocating. The utility billing office in Garyville will remain open, Helm said.

The East Bank location of the St. John the Baptist Parish Clerk of Court’s office, left, is one of the offices relocating to the Parish’s new administrative headquarters.

“This building has been in the works for a long time through many different parish presidents and administrations,” Helm said. “It’s been a long time coming for the community, and it ultimately will save some money as we close some of these offices.”

The building includes two stories, a lower level to address community needs and a second floor dedicated to finance, grants offices and administration.

Lamar Contracting has overseen the construction, which Helm said is completely funded through a $10 million 2013 bond issue.

“We want to be clear, this was built only with bond money the voters passed,” Helm said. “It’s not a new tax. We didn’t pull it out of another budget or take away from a service.”

The view out the Airline Highway entrance displays the available space of the new building.

Once funds are earmarked for a specific purpose, administration is not permitted to stray from its intended use, according to Capital Projects Administrator Daron Cooper.

He said the construction of the administrative building is nearly complete, with final aesthetics, carpet installation, electrical and IT work projected to finish by the end of August.

“We’ll try to make the transition of the divisions as smooth as possible next month,” Cooper said.

“That’s why we’re doing it in phases. If we do have to close a division, we’ll make it on a Friday so we can finish over the weekend and be open on Monday morning.”

With theater seating to fit up to 150 people, the new Council camber opens the door to more involvement over the current venue, which packs in 40 people.

Cooper expects the public will be excited to see the updated Parish Council chamber.

With theater seating to fit up to 150 people, Cooper said the new chamber opens the door to more residential and local business involvement than the current facility, which tightly packs 30 to 40 people.

Much like the chamber, the administrative offices in the Percy Hebert building are packed, unable to keep up with a growing staff.

“We have outgrown this building’s usefulness,” Cooper said. “An up-to-date, modern facility can accommodate us to better serve the public.”

A ribbon cutting ceremony will be planned to introduce the public to the new building. To stay informed on when offices will move, monitor St. John the Baptist Parish on Facebook, visit sjbparish.com or call 985-652-9569.