City-Parish President Joey Durel offered a roughly $580 million budget to the City-Parish Council during a special meeting Thursday night. Durel also offered the council a challenge: be fair to the city of Lafayette.
In his budget message, Durel told the council he believes the parish — unincorporated Lafayette Parish, to be exact; the five smaller municipalities are autonomous and operate on separate budgets — has gotten about $32 million worth of services from the city since the inception of consolidated government in 1996. Although Lafayette operates under a consolidated form of government, it’s not truly consolidated; the city and parish have separate budgets and the city and parish split the cost of providing services and infrastructure to unincorporated Lafayette Parish on a 84 percent (city) to 16 percent (parish) ratio.
“When you talk about not being able to hire more policemen, more firemen, things like that, and you look that we may have 32 or so million dollars no longer in the city that maybe potentially should be, it gives you a pretty good picture of where he have been and where we would continue to go if this was not be exposed,” Durel told council members.
Durel said the ratio should mirror the population ratio in the parish: 54 percent (city) and 46 percent (parish). That means the parish would be on the hook for covering nearly $6 million more in services in the upcoming fiscal year beginning Nov. 1. All at the meeting acknowledged the parish doesn’t have that kind of cash laying around. Durel is proposing the parish only assume $4 million of that cost.
Indications from Thursday’s meeting are that this isn’t sitting well with the council members who represent mainly unincorporated Lafayette Parish and the small towns, although those councilmen are a four-vote minority on the nine-member council. Council members will have to hammer out the issues during the budget-hearing process that begins Tuesday.
To watch last night’s meeting, click here.
To read more, check out The Advertiser’s coverage here.