W. Feliciana Parish president, councilwoman divided over interpretation of Home Rule Charter

West Feliciana Parish president, councilwoman divided over interpretation of Home Rule Charter

ST. FRANCISVILLE, LA (WAFB) - The West Feliciana Parish Council failed to pass a measure Monday night that would have given voters the chance to decide whether to repeal their current form of government.

The parish is currently under a Home Rule Charter, which creates a parish council. Putting the measure on the ballot would have given residents the opportunity to vote to return to a Police Jury system, which was in place just three years ago.

"It's gotten ridiculous," said St. Francisville resident Becky Hilliard. "The voters approved the Home Rule Charter in 2012, and it's been nothing but chaos since."

Hilliard is opposed to getting rid of Home Rule Charter, but her district representative, Lea Williams, said it is a failure.

Williams is one of four council members who voted Monday night in favor of a repeal and putting a measure to do so on the November ballot.

"The Home Rule Charter was very expensive for our parish," said Williams.

She said the bigger system is costing taxpayers an extra $800,000 to pay parish government salaries.

Williams also said too much power is now in the hands of Parish President Kevin Couhig.

"He has all the spending power," said Williams. "We're supposed to able to set the budgets, but he can veto the amendments we make to the budget he presents."

Couhig refutes the claim.

"The president of the parish has no power to do anything with the budget other than recommend a budget, and the legislative branch, the counselors, have all of the budget authority," said Couhig.

Williams is now speaking with an attorney, trying to figure out if another council vote can happen ahead of November and how many votes were necessary to move it forward.

"It appears that, according to the charter, that you only had to have four," said Williams.

"It takes a super majority, and under our present operation, that means that five council people have to vote in favor," said Couhig. "They didn't do that."

If nothing changes following Monday night's vote, a new council will be seated in January and they can consider making any tweaks to the Home Rule Charter.

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