St. Charles Parish President Larry Cochran calls giving parish employees their birthday off with pay “a reward for dedication and hard work,” but Councilman Paul Hogan calls it “using public funds to buy votes.”
Hogan, whose controversial political style has gotten him forcibly removed from two council meetings this year, has also persistently questioned Cochran’s move to grant the holiday.
“I oppose it because a holiday is a day that’s common to everybody and more specifically a day commemorating a special event,” said the councilman. “It’s just ironic this policy is put in place at the beginning of an election year.”
The election primary, which includes the parish president seat, is Oct. 12. Cochran has announced he will seek a second term in office.
This year, Cochran issued an ongoing policy of allowing full-time civil service and appointed employees to receive a day off for their birthday. In addition to the holidays recognized and approved by the Civil Service Board, the board has also adopted rules which have stated that the parish president may declare additional holidays at his discretion.
Adrienne Bourgeois, the parish’s interim public information officer, added, “With the idea of avoiding the complete closure of parish government on one designated day, Parish President Cochran felt that this policy was a proper way to balance honoring of our devoted parish employees and maintaining an efficient and productive government for our residents.”
“It’s just ironic this policy is put in place at the beginning of an election year.” — Councilman Paul Hogan
The parish has 750 employees with 552 of them being full time. Total budgeted cost for employees with benefits for 2019 is $46 million.
In a May 30 opinion to Hogan, Parish attorney Robert Raymond states the parish president has authority under the Home Rule Charter as chief executive officer of the parish and is responsible for administration of all parish departments, which includes oversight of parish employees. The Home Rule Charter provides for a Civil Service System governed by its board with duties that include assisting the parish president on maintenance and improvement of personnel standards. It has stated the parish president can declare additional holidays at his or her discretion.
This is the first time an additional “holiday” or day off with pay has been granted that Hogan can recall in his 12 years on the council.
“It appears to me to be an attempt to buy votes, as I see it,” he said. “Otherwise, this would have been a policy in place for years.”
A day with pay
- The parish president can grant a day with pay such as a birthday.
- Under the parish’s Home Rule Charter, the parish president operates as CEO of the parish and is responsible for all parish departments.
- The Home Rule Charter also provides for a Civil Service System governed by a board that advises and assists the parish president on maintaining and improving personnel standards. The board has adopted rules that include the observation of certain days as a regular holidays.