Lafourche Parish Government Structure
- DUTIES AND POWERS OF THE PARISH COUNCIL
- DUTIES AND POWERS OF THE PARISH PRESIDENT
- PARISH DEPARTMENTS
Lafourche Parish operates under a Home Rule Charter, which provides for separate legislative and executive branches independent of each other.
Legislative matters are handled by an elected nine-member Council, while the elected Parish President serves as administrator.
The Home Rule Charter was an option offered local governments when the State of Louisiana adopted its new constitution in 1974. It was included in the State Constitution at the insistence of local officials who felt the need to strengthen local governments throughout the state.
Prior to this, the Parish operated under the Policy Jury System. Under this system jurors were elected from Wards or Districts. They operated as both Legislators and Administrators, handling day-to-day operations of the Parish.
The system was restrictive since Parish Government could exercise only that authority specifically given them by the State Legislature. The Home Rule Charter of Lafourche Parish allows much more flexibility.
The Council is made up of nine members, elected from each district in the Parish. The Council’s principal function is to ratify ordinances or laws. However, the Home Rule Charter gives the council additional powers including levying taxes, appropriating funds and fixing penalties for violations of local ordinances.
The daily routine of government is the responsibility of the Parish President, who heads the executive or administrative branch of Parish government.
The President carries out the policies developed by the Council and implements the Council’s decisions. She/ He has the responsibility for hiring and firing subject to personnel policies and rules adopted by the Council. Department directors are appointed by the Parish President and must be confirmed by a majority vote of the Council.
All programs are handled on a Parish wide basis by departments staffed by professionals.
The departments include Administration, Civil Service, Finance, Grants and Economic Development, Health Activities, Human Resources, Information Technology, Legislative, Public Facilities, Risk Management, Community Action, Community Services, Head Start, Office of Emergency Preparedness, Parks and Recreation, Permits, Planning, Public Works, Solid Waste, Coastal Zone Management.
As outlined in the Home Rule Charter, the Parish Council is vested with and exercises all legislative power in the Parish of Lafourche.
In addition to having complete legislative authority, the Parish Council may:
- Levy and collect taxes, special assessments, service charges, license charges, fees and other revenues, and borrow money in such a manner and subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.
- Make appropriations for all parish purposes.
- Require periodic and special reports from all parish officers concerning the affairs of their respective departments, offices, agencies or special districts, which reports shall be submitted by and through the Parish President in the case of departments, offices, agencies and special districts subject to his jurisdiction.
- Make investigation of parish affairs and make inquiries into the conduct of any department, office, agency or special district of the parish, including the investigation of the accounts, records and transactions of the department, office, agency or special district; and for the purpose of investigation of the accounts, records and transactions of the department, office, agency or special district; and other evidence,; and any person who fails or refuses to obey any lawful order of the Council shall, upon conviction, be punished in such a manner as the Council shall fix by ordinance.
- Create parish departments, offices or agencies in addition to those created by the Charter.
- By ordinance, abolish or consolidate any parish department, office, agency, board or commission or provide for the consolidation and transfer of any of the function of such departments, offices, agencies, boards or commissions.
- Enter into contracts with other governmental units within or outside the boundaries of the parish for joint performance or performance by one unit in behalf of the other of any authorized function of activity.
- By ordinance, establish, merge, reorganize, consolidate and/or abolish special districts within which may be provided fire protection, recreation, police protection, water, streets, drainage, sidewalks, street lighting, waste and garbage collection and disposal, sewerage and sewerage disposal systems and other similar facilities and services. All parish funds for such districts shall be provided by service charges, special assessments, and general tax levies or as otherwise provided by law, within such districts only. When acting as the governing body of special districts as provided by this Charter, the Parish Council shall have the same jurisdiction and powers as when acting as the Council.
- Provide, in manner and in amounts consistent with state law, penalties for the violation of this Charter and of parish ordinances.
- Provide budgetary, fiscal and other controls over all special boards, commissions, agencies, districts or any device having governmental functions which it or its predecessor has created to insure the maximum possible coordination of government at the local level in Lafourche Parish.
- Perform any other acts consistent with state law deemed to be for the best interest of the people of Lafourche Parish.
- The Council shall have the power of eminent domain and the right to expropriate property for public purposes as provided by law. The Council shall make fair and just compensation for any properties acquired in the exercise of its powers, duties or functions.
THE COUNCIL IN NO WAY HAS THE RIGHT TO INTERFERE WITH PARISH EMPLOYEES OR DAILY ACTIVITIES WHICH FALL UNDER THE POWER OF THE PARISH PRESIDENT.
In accordance with the Charter, the Parish President is responsible for carrying out the policies adopted by the Parish Council and for the administration, direction and supervision of all parish departments, offices, agencies and special districts, the heads of which are appointed by him or her.
The Parish President must see that all laws, provisions of the Charter and acts of the Council subject to enforcement by him or her or offices subject to his direction or supervision are faithfully executed.
In addition to handling the daily affairs of the Parish, the Charter mandates that the Parish President:
- Prepare and submit an annual operating budget and capital outlay program to the Council and shall be responsible for executing the budget and capital program after adoption by the Council.
- He shall submit to the Council and make available to the public monthly reports on the finances and administrative activities of the parish. No later than three months following the close of each fiscal year, he shall present the Council with a complete financial and operating report on the affairs of the parish for the fiscal year just ended.
- He shall make such other reports as the council may require concerning the operations of parish departments, offices and agencies subject to his direction and supervision.
- He shall keep the Council fully advised of the financial condition and the needs of the parish and shall make such recommendations to the Council concerning the affairs of the parish as he deems desirable.
The Charter allows that the Parish Council may, by ordinance, establish other parish departments, offices or agencies. Each parish department, office or agency is administered by an officer appointed by and subject to the direction and supervision of the Parish President. These department heads may be suspended or removed by written order of the President.
Except as specifically provided by this Charter, neither the Council nor any of its members shall in any manner dictate the appointment or removal of any parish administrative officer or employee whom the Parish President or any of his/her subordinates are empowered to appoint, but the Council may discuss with the President anything pertaining to the appointment and removal of such officers and employees.
Except for the purpose of inquiry and investigation, the Council and its members shall deal with parish officers and employees who are subject to the direction and supervision of the Parish President solely through the President and neither the Council nor its members shall give any orders to any such officer or employee, either publicly or privately.
Departments Established by the Home Rule Charter
Department of Finance
The head of the Department of Finance shall be the Director of Finance. The Director of Finance shall direct and be responsible for maintaining the fiscal records and systems of the Parish; preparation and monitoring of the Parish budgets; coordinating and reviewing the annual audit; and supervising the daily administrative functions of the Department of Finance.
Department of Public Works
The head of the Department of Public Works shall be the Director of Public Works. The Director of Public Works shall direct and be responsible for the field operations of all employees in the department, and the maintenance and operation of all road and drainage infrastructure and equipment.
Department of Civil Service
The Parish shall have a Civil Service System, (hereinafter referred to as Civil Service). It shall be the policy of the Parish to employ those persons best qualified to exercise the powers, functions and duties of the Parish and to foster effective career service in Parish employment. Except as provided hereunder, all employments, appointments and promotions in the service of the Parish and each of its departments shall be made on the basis of merit and fitness that shall be determined, insofar as practical, by competitive testing.