SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Shreveport City Council members approved a new city employee position to help with public interfacing on Tuesday.
The council approved creating a Director of Council Affairs, serving as a public information officer for all council districts. The vote was close but not unanimous.
City leaders say a council representative who works behind the scenes, meets with constituents and helps get issues resolved has yet to be included in city government.
“It’s designed to be that external leg of council affairs. So if you think about the mayor’s office, communications and public relations, right now, the council does not have that. So when things are happening in our districts, we don’t have a unified communication piece or unified voice that tells people to boil their water, or there’s a tornado warning or different things like that,” said Councilman Dr. Alan Jackson, District E.
Dr. Jackson wrote the legislation that created the Director of Council Affairs position.
“This person will report to all seven council members to help them maximize what they’re trying to do for their districts,” Jackson said.
Jackson says he based the position on past legislation approved by prior councils that allowed seven positions for each district. He says he did not think that’s fiscally prudent, so he’s consolidated it into one position.
Council members say it could help them address public concerns faster.
“We want to do a job effectively, and we need some help. Then we need some help,” said Councilman James Green, District F.
Two council members were not in favor but said it’s a good idea that could benefit residents and help council members follow up on the many calls they receive. Council members Grayson Boucher and Jim Taliaferro motioned to postpone the vote to research existing resources inside the clerk’s office.
“So the premise of having this is not a bad idea. My concern is that I want us to plan a little bit better and look and see what we have. We have five employees in the clerk’s office, and I want us to take a little bit of time and not rush into it and look and see if there’s anything these employees can do,” said Councilman Boucher, District D.
“I struggle with adding more financial burden to an already inflated personnel budget within this administration, which is yet to be thoroughly vetted and evaluated by our new administration,” said Councilman Jim Taliaferro, District C.
Their postponement failed to pass, and Jackson had the votes for his legislation to pass.
“I’m very excited about that. I met with each council person individually to voice what the job was going to be and hear their concerns. So we were able to wrap it all up into one position,” Jackson said.
The next step is the hiring process. Jackson says they are looking for a highly qualified individual with knowledge of city government and communications. The pay is between $85,000 to $115,000 in salary, which is already in the city’s budget.