Healthy retail sales, along with a reduction in scores of government jobs, will likely lead to a 2.5 percent pay hike for city-parish employees as well as a small break in property taxes for residents and business owners, according to the 2013-14 budget handed to the council Thursday by City-Parish President Joey Durel.
Durel is proposing a nearly $600 million budget for the fiscal year that begins Nov. 1. LCG employees have foregone a pay increase the last two years. The property tax reduction comes via operating surpluses for mosquito control and the health unit.
The three-term city-parish chief executive is optimistic in the message attached to the budget:
It has been a tremendous year for our economy with a very optimistic outlook for the coming fiscal year. The City of Lafayette continues to see strong retail sales, which was recently recognized by Standard & Poor’s when it assigned an “AA” rating to our most recent sales tax bonds... This independent review of our community’s strengths also points to diversity in “the nature of jobs available to residents, per-capita median household incomes were, in (S&P’s) opinion, a good 122% and 104% of the state and national levels, respectively.” This is also shown in the local unemployment rate (4%), which remains well below state and national levels. Durel also says in his budget message that the city of Lafayette’s general fund reserve has climbed to a healthy $18.5 million after falling as low as $9 million as LCG tapped into the reserve during the Great Recession. However, Durel notes, LCG’s auditor would like to see the general fund reserve climb back to the roughly $27 million it stood at several years ago.
The council will begin reviewing city finances on Tuesday, July 30, when it parses the budgets for the fire, police, public works and transportation departments. Budget hearings continue through Sept. 5, with a vote on final adoption scheduled for Sept. 12.
If you'd like to view the budget yourself, click here for a PDF. (The budget message begins on Page 7.)
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