Lafayette city-parish officials are still looking for answers a week after the state legislature extended new financial disclosure requirements to cover volunteer municipal boards and commissioners. In Lafayette alone, 56 board members have tendered their resignation rather than be subjected to the new disclosures. Part of the problem, according to city-parish council chairman Don Bertrand, is uncertainty over what exactly is included in the financial disclosure. Senate Bill 718, now Act NO. 472, applies to all local boards and commissions that have “the authority to expend, disburse or invest ten thousand dollars or more of funds in a fiscal year.” The bill reduced earlier, more stringent requirements set by the legislature but still required reporting the sources of income of board members and their spouses, amounts of income from state and political subdivisions, and gambling interests. Board members had until midnight Monday to resign before being required to comply with the new laws.
Bertrand says the state has failed to effectively notify and explain the provisions in the new disclosure requirements. He says many local board members resigned out of an abundance of caution. “The devil’s always in the details,” he says. “This is broad sweeping policy without any i’s being dotted and t’s being crossed. We all want reform but it has to be based in reality. People have to know what it is that they need to report.” Bertrand says the city will be seeking to fill vacant board posts. The council also is likely to consider a resolution at its next meeting requesting the state legislature revisit the issue.