Should Caddo Administrator Wilson live in Caddo?

Shreveport Attorney John Settle
by John Settle

No, this is not a trick question, – – but it’s a primary real reason Caddo Commissioners are considering a personnel policy change concerning residency. And the answer to the question is “no”.

Stress-Zebra-StripesAt a work session this past week, an ordinance was introduced to require Caddo Commission employees to live in the parish. The ordinance applies to all new employees hired after December 31st of this year. Beginning January 1 2015, parish residency is a requirement for promotions to management, supervisory or director positions. The new ordinance grandfathers current parish employees, who would not be required to move to the parish.

The residency issue has been a topic of discussion for several years by Commissioners, and there is little doubt that Administrator Woody Wilson’s continued residence outside the parish is the primary engine pushing this debate. Dr. Wilson is the highest paid Commission employee ($175,000 plus benefits); he is also the second highest paid public employee in Caddo Parish, behind Caddo Parish School Superintendent.

As written, the proposed ordinance may be too expansive if all new hires must be parish residents. However, thus requirement has much more merit for persons employed in high level management, supervisory and/or director positions.

Leadership by Example!

Residency requirements have been debated by other local government entities several times over the years, including take home vehicles by law enforcement officers. The most protracted debate concerning a top government official concerned then Shreveport CAO Tom Dark, who lived less than a mile outside the city limits. In recent memory, the top official of each government agency has lived within the geographical jurisdiction of his employer.

Many truths could be examined...
Many truths could be examined…

Commissioners Stephanie Lynch and Mike Thibodeaux are to be commended for authoring this ordinances and bringing this issue up for public debate. As one commissioners noted, there are a lot of reasons to live outside Caddo Parish, but even more reasons to live inside the parish. It’s certainly hard to disagree with that reasoning, especially when Caddo taxpayer dollars fund the salaries of the Parish’s highest paid employees.