Today, tit. Tuesday, tat.

Hoping to take the wind out of Councilman William Theriot’s sails ahead of Tuesday’s council meeting, officials from Lafayette Utilities System argued Thursday that the long-term financial viability of the city-owned utility’s LUS Fiber business is on the horizon. LUS Director Terry Huval, along with Lorrie Toups, chief financial officer for Lafayette Consolidated Government, and CPA Burton Kolder discussed the fiber-to-the-home/business venture’s sustainability during a presentation at City Hall — five days before Tuesday’s City-Parish Council meeting, during which Theriot will give his own presentation on the financial health of LUS Fiber and, we expect, make the case for LCG discontinuing its financial support of the initiative.

LUS officials have been on a public-relations sally for the last week, making the case that despite the spin-off’s financial losses since it was launched in 2009, those losses were anticipated and built into LUS Fiber’s business plan and the business is on track to break even and begin turning a profit by 2015. A briefing on May 21 before the council revealed that LUS Fiber closed out 2011 with a $29 million deficit, a figure The Daily Advertiser parsed into an alarming headline the next day: “Audit: LUS Fiber lost $45,000 a day.” But in a more measured article in The Advocate, Kolder put LUS Fiber’s losses into context: “Normally, most start-up businesses lose money the first three to five years,” he told The Advocate. “... It would be expected.”

The briefing last week, as expected, reignited Theriot’s ideological opposition to LUS Fiber — and that’s what this really is: an ideological argument about a publicly owned utility competing with private enterprise, with Theriot carrying the water for the big, private telecom operators in Lafayette who have opposed LUS every step of the way.

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