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Parish enters contract to improve code enforcement

LAPLACE — Long-anticipated changes appear to be moving forward for resolving permitting procedures and increasing efficiency in code enforcement in St. John the Baptist Parish.

The Parish Council on Feb. 23 authorized the Parish to enter into a contract with The Center for Planning Excellence, a non-profit organization that coordinates urban, rural and regional planning efforts in Louisiana, to provide professional services for the audit of the Code of Ordinances.

Director of Planning and Zoning Director Rene Pastorek said CPEX will provide recommendations to remove barriers to growth, to streamline procedures and improve efficiency in code enforcement. The estimated cost of the agreement is $125,000, Pastorek said.

According to its website, CPEX provides best-practice planning models, innovative policy ideas and technical assistance to individual communities that wish to create and enact master plans dealing with transportation and infrastructure needs, environmental issues and quality design for the build environment.

CPEX helps bring community members and leaders, as well as political officials, together and provides guidance as they work toward a shared vision for future growth. According to the website, since its founding in 2006 CPEX has been involved with the planning efforts of more than 30 Louisiana cities, towns and parishes.

Council members expressed their enthusiasm regarding the contract and agreed it was much needed. Code enforcement as well as permitting procedures have been a topic of heated exchanges with the council during past administrations.

In other action, the council members voted to terminate the Cooperative Endeavor Agreement with the St. John the Baptist Parish Library Board to maintain congruency between the Parish and the library for the services of health, dental and life insurance for library employees.

Director of Human Resources Stacey Cador said that the Parish had originally amended its contract with Ultimate Software Group, Inc., to include the library system and its employees. The company proposed that the parish and library board would be maintained as separate entities and each entity’s data would be confidential.

“However, (Ultimate Software) is unable to fulfill this requirement,” Cador said. “The public purpose of the CEA cannot be accomplished.”