Pointe Coupee: eliminated job raises parish policy questions

POINTE COUPEE PARISH, LA (WAFB) - A position that was eliminated, but the employee continues to work it, has raised some questions. The issue came up at Tuesday's heated Police Jury meeting in Pointe Coupee Parish.

"It's an oversight," said Juror Clifford Nelson.

That's how Juror Nelson explained a part-time employee continuing to get paid by the parish, even after the police jury cut her position two years ago.

Earlier this year, Juror Justin Cox brought attention to the discrepancy.

In 2010, the police jury voted to hire a student worker for three summer months. That job should have ended in August of 2010, more than two years ago.  Instead, the part-time student continued working, sometimes billing the parish for up to 88 hours in a two-week period.

Then on Jan. 22, 2013, the police jury decided to temporarily remove the position while they investigate. But the question remains: if the job should have stopped in 2010, who dropped the ball?

"You got a juror that obviously participated in letting that girl stay," said Cox.

"A juror? Excuse me? He can't do that!," said Police Jury President Melanie Beuche.

"No joke, that's what we all said," said Cox.

That brought up another issue. In the Jan. 22nd police jury meeting, Nelson was quoted saying, "I told her she couldn't work more than 32 hours until we get this straight." But after that meeting, Nelson is accused of trying to get the minutes from that meeting amended.

"I misspoke. I said "I" would when I meant I would get the staff to do it," said Nelson.

But be it Nelson, the staff or the parish administrator Jim Bello, that employee never got word and continued working and billing an already financially-strapped parish.

As for the position itself:

"I think the young lady was doing a great job while she was here," said Nelson.

"Again, we're not talking about her specifically. The position that she works, are you in favor of keeping that position or getting rid of that position?" asked Chawla.

"That's a good question. I think keep it," said Nelson.

The issue will now head to a personnel committee meeting and then come back to the full jury for a vote on the future of the position.

The Attorney General's Office, Legislative Auditor and Board of Ethics have received letters on the issue, but no formal investigation has been launched yet.

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