In the News

Candidates line up to replace Steve Sirmon as Registrar of Voters

By Staff Report

July 12, 2007 at 8:20 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

St. Charles Parish Council will fill the vacancy of Registrar of Voters at its July 23 meeting.

Council members approved 12 candidates who submitted their resumes to replace the late John Steve Sirmon at the July 2 meeting. They are:

Brian Champagne (Luling), Gwyneth Duhe (Luling), Joan Zeringue Robbins (Hahnville), Haven Johnson (Ama), Chet Oubre (Luling), Belinda Wilson (Destrehan), Jenny Savoie-Campbell (Luling), Henry LeBoyd (Destrehan), Wendy Watkins (Hahnville), Sherry Champagne (Luling), Fay Caire (Luling), Terri L. Harries (Luling).

Steve Sirmon’s wife, Joette Sirmon was also a nominee. “But apparently she changed her mind and withdrew her nomination just before the July 2 meeting,” Councilman Lance Marino told the Herald-Guide.

The person selected will administer the parish registrar of voters office located in the courthouse in Hahnville. The office, which is open daily on weekdays, allows qualified residents to place their names on the registration roll.

When elections are held, the office provides the rolls to the respective voting precincts so poll workers can allow persons listed on the roll to vote. The registrar of voters is paid an annual salary of $69,000 per year.

Appointment of the registrar is permanent. Only in cases of malfeasance in office can the council discharge the registrar.

The job is essentially a lifetime appointment.

The Registrar of Voters is appointed by the Parish Council.

- By SHONNA RIGGS, Staff Reporter

Schools to account annually for retirement benefits

St. Charles School Board members approved a request to hire consultants to examine the actuarial cost of paying retiree benefits.

While the consultants themselves will only cost the school system approximately $12,000-$16,000 to do the necessary calculations to figure retirement benefits for upcoming years, the cost of funding post employment benefits, which include health and life insurance, is expected to cost St. Charles somewhere in the neighborhood of $80-$90 million over approximately the next 20 years, according to school system comptroller Jim Melohn.

“Currently we’re paying approximately $3 million a year in retiree insurance,” Melohn said. “That’s close to one third of our entire insurance payout.”

Under a new financial reporting requirement for the 2008 fiscal from the Government Accounting Standards Board known as GASB Statement 45, the school system and other governmental entities will report and account for post employment healthcare benefits each year during the years that employees are providing services to a governmental agency.

In years prior, government agencies typically followed a “pay as you go” accounting approach that did not tally the cost of benefits until an employee retired.

According to information form the GASB website, the program is expected to approve accountability and help employers make informed decisions about what types of benefits to provide as well as how to finance the benefits.

Melohn said the state legislature is close to approving a law that would allow them the option of creating irrevocable trusts to fund the increase with. To fund the $90 million increase, the school system would have to place about $4.5 million into the trust annually to meet the needs of current and future employees of the school system.

Board member Al Suffrin pointed out that while this may not change the budget of St. Charles Schools drastically, it could have severe affects on other parishes.

“We’re fortunate that we’re a pretty healthy parish financially,” Suffrin said. “But this is going to have a real detrimental affect on many parishes.”

Melohn stressed that this only changes the way they report the cost of post-employment benefits, it’s not required they actually obtain the funding on an annual basis.

“Right now, we’re only required to report it, not fund it,” Melohn said. “A lot of districts are looking to fund it though because it could very well prove beneficial in the long run




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