Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi kicked off his 15-minute presentation to the members of the Iberville Chamber of Commerce on a light note.
“Hank (Grace, executive director of the Chamber) told me there were only 45 people who had RSVP’d for the luncheon until they heard I was going to be the guest speaker, then it shot up to 86 and a couple more sneaked in,” he said.
Stassi then turned to all business.
“The Sheriff’s Office is running leaner and meaner,” he said, but cross-training deputies for other positions when needed and by combining jobs “where we can to run more efficiently.”
A drop in tax revenues is in part responsible for the changes, he said. As the parish’s official tax collector, Stassi’s office has its finger on the pulse of tax revenues.
In 2016, the tax rolls totaled $62.5 million, of which Stassi said 99.9 percent had been collected, but tax revenue for 2017 dropped by $3 million to $59.5 million.
The sheriff said Assessor Randy Sexton said the main reason for the decrease was a decrease in the inventory at businesses and industries in the parish.
“We here in Iberville Parish look around and see all this industry and we’re glad to have it and we have all this construction going on and again, we’re glad to have it,” but even with all of that economic activity, tax revenues still dropped in 2017.
“The Sheriff’s Office gets no sales tax,” Stassi said, so his office runs entirely on property taxes and funds the office generates in hand.
He said the decline in property and inventory taxes has meant a decrease in revenue for most of the parish’s entities – the School Board, the police and fire departments, the Iberville Parish Councils revenues used for road and building maintenance, the Assessor’s Office – “all are receiving less this year.”
Stassi also took the time to recognize his staff. “It’s not always just the people you see o the street that are our first responders,” he said.
“These people that I brought with me are some of the key people that we have at the Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office,” Stassi said, then proceeded to rattle off their names.
One of the most important is his executive assistant, Leslie Gallagher.
“I don’ have time to tell you all that she does for me, so I’m just going to say she takes care
Another of the employees Stassi introduced was McKenzie Wille, a certified public accountant, who works with the sheriff to manage the office’s $15 million annual budget.
“I tell you, I don’t know how you’d run an office without somebody like her,” the sheriff said. “She’s the only person at the Sheriff’s Office who tells me no and I listen.”
He also introduced his human resources officer, Kari McGinnis.
“I didn’t realize how important an HR person is until I became sheriff,” Stassi said, adding “she manages to take care of all those people,” referring to the 150 or so employees of the Sheriff’s Office.
Next to be recognized was Brittnay Pitslata, who he introduced as “my new tax collector.”
“She’s doing a great job,” Stassi said. “…I really appreciate having her on my staff.”
The sheriff also praised Capt. Walter Ventress, the office’s training coordinator to keep up with the state’s requirements to continue to receive its funding.
“So we brought Ventress in and he has more than excelled at that,” Stassi said. “He has brought us to the next level.”
Russell Jackson was introduced by Stassi as his chief administrative officer. The sheriff said he is “pretty persistent” calling on local industries to promote their hiring of local residents.
“He also takes care of some of the people who come by to see me, which frees me up to run the day-to-day operation of the Sheriff’s Office,” Stassi said.
“Last, but not least,” the sheriff introduced Warden Pete Evans.
;”He has a critical role in our administration,” Stassi said. “With this warden and the job he does – a job nobody wants – he does it in the most professional manner.”
“All these people that you see at this table (the one reserved for the Sheriff’s Office) not only work for the Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office and the taxpayers, but I consider all of them to be my friends,” he said.