Durel unveils budget, calls for city/parish equity
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.
MAY 22 This post was written the day after the second line shooting in NOLA, by Brentin Mock. Mock is a friend of Deb "Big Red" Cotton, a blogger who was shot in the back and was seriously injured. It is a raw, emotional piece of writing, something the writer obviously felt he needed to get off his chest. But it raises questions that can't be easily dismissed, and might give some insight into where the source of these events truly is.
MAY 22 In this Baton Rouge Business Report post, Rolfe McCollister considers the privatization of bus service in Baton Rouge. After decades of under-funding, it is a mess, and although a tax (partially) passed last year, improvement hasn't happened yet. McCollister apparently feels it is time to let private business get in on the transit business.
MAY 22 This post on Bayou Buzz by Jeff Crouere urges the defeat of a bill that would grant modest pay increases over the next several years to the state's judges and clerks of court. The state is in no position to fund pay hikes, Crouere argues, with the pay increases costing a total of $9 million over several years. It sends the wrong message to the (proverbial) hard-working people of Louisiana, he says.
MAY 22 The Advocate reports here that State Treasurer John Kennedy is complaining about a meeting of the corporation that oversees the state's tobacco settlement. The Governor wanted it restructured, and he has some support, but not a lot. The corporation agreed with his plan, but Kennedy didn't, and it appears that the meeting was noticed in a manner completely different than that of all previous meetings. Kennedy's given to hyperbole, but in this case the fish don't smell too fresh.
MAY 22 In this Advocate story, Carencro Police Chief Carlos Stout says the recent federal indictment of a strip club owner is all wrong. The indictment alleges that drugs and prostitution went on with impunity because club staff made arrangements with "local" police. Stout says it never happened, and while his cops do work security in the parking lot, they're not allowed inside.
MAY 22 This amusing post in DIG Baton Rouge recounts an ad that ran on Craig's List recently; the advertiser was seeking tenants for a Beauregard Town house. He knew his market, and wrote an ad that the most ironical hipster couldn't resist. Apparently, he really did know his market, because the ad worked like a charm.
MAY 22 In this post in The Lens, Mark Moseley comments on the rhetoric Gov. Jindal employed in trying to save his tax "reform" package. One interesting point concerns Jindal's use of his brother, Nikesh, in a little story. Nikesh left Louisiana because of his inability to get a decent job, the story goes, but the story won't hold water: Nikesh lives in DC, which has an income tax level comparable to Louisiana, Moseley says. If income taxes caused the dismal situation, it should exist in DC too. Right?
MAY 22 This post by columnist John Maginnis traces the trajectory of the bill that would fund construction at community and technical colleges -- and bypass the Board of Regents and traditional higher ed funding mechanisms. Sure, it will bust the legislature's self-imposed debt limit, but some leges feel that there's more need (because there is more growth) in the community and technical college area than in the university area, he says.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.