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Wednesday, January 22, 2020



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New Lafourche parish president prepares for office

New Lafourche parish president prepares for office

Archie Chaisson plans to address some major issues as soon as his term as Lafourche Parish’s new president begins in January.

His top priorities, he said, include tax reform, rebuilding the parish’s economic development department and healing the relationship between the administration and council.

Chaisson said he’s familiar with the demands of government after following parish politics nearly two decades and serving as the parish administrator from 2013 to 2016.

“Everybody asks me if I’m nervous; I’m not,” he said. “I’m very calm as to what I’m walking into because I’ve been here before.”

Since winning the November runoff election, Chaisson has met with all but one of the Parish Council members to learn their priorities.

He expects the first couple of council meetings to revolve around potential budget amendments to address needs cited by the three newly elected council members.

Chaisson noted that the past four years under Parish President Jimmy Cantrelle have been seen some of the “roughest” relations between the administration and council. Through the meetings with council members, Chaisson aims to create more opportunity for collaboration and communication between the two branches.

An improved relationship could assist in addressing the divide found within different regions of the parish, Chaisson said. While he believes there will always be varying cultures among north, south and central Lafourche, building a consensus starts in the council meeting room.

“That goes a long way to setting a tone parishwide,” he said. “I think we start to bridge that gap with some of these capital projects and making sure that everybody gets a little piece of the pie. … In the long-term, I think that’s how we bridge the gap and bring everybody together.”

Chaisson said he’s also begun working with a steering committee to drive tax reform forward. With most of the parish’s taxes dedicated to specific uses, the government can’t move money from one account to address issues that might be a higher priority.

Led by the Assessor’s Office, the committee will analyze the parish’s taxes and hold public meetings with the ultimate goal of having a proposal on the ballot for the 2021 spring election. Chaisson said parish officials might ask voters to get rid of some taxes and rededicate others.

Chaisson also said he plans to hire a consultant to secure an economic development director whose main job will be to market the parish to businesses.

Other issues on his agenda include reviewing the need for a new coroner’s building and addressing the status of tax revenue for the parish’s recreation districts.

Chaisson said he’s already submitted the resumes of his department head appointees to the council for ratification and only plans to keep one from the Cantrell administration: Planning Director Tony Breaux.

Chaisson will be sworn in during a ceremony Jan. 12

“The brightest days of Lafourche are ahead of us,” he said. “The next two weeks can’t come fast enough so that we can get to work.”

 

-- Daily Comet Staff Writer Halle Parker can be reached at hparker@houmatoday.com or 857-2204. Follow her on Twitter, @_thehalparker.