|Council Chairman Kevin Naquin|
A committee organized by City-Parish Council Chairman Kevin Naquin will soon begintaking a look under the hood of Lafayette Consolidated Government’s very complex structure with an eye toward making recommendations on how to most effectively fund local government.
Five Lafayette residents accepted Naquin’s offer to serve on the so-called Future Needs/Funding Sources Committee: Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce President Jason El Koubi; Sarah Walker, the former chair of the Assessment Committee on School Needs; Scott Hayes, a Finance Committee member for The 705; IberiaBank’s Jerry Prejean; and Chad Hanks, a LEDA board member and local sugarcane farmer.
Naquin tells The IND the committee will meet twice a month through the end of the 2014. Three council members — Naquin, Jay Castille and Don Bertrand, who are, respectively, the council chair, finance chair and chairman of the Lafayette Public Utilities Authority — will serve an advisory role with the committee.
Naquin says the committee’s purpose is to assess LCG’s funding needs going forward and devise ways to meet those needs. It’s little secret that Lafayette Parish Government — a separate entity within LCG that manages unincorporated Lafayette Parish — is facing funding crises as the tax base in the parish shrinks even as the cost of providing services escalate.
But Naquin, who spearheaded a failed attempt last year to repeal a merchant rebate on sales taxes collected, adds that the committee isn’t a pretext for raising taxes in Lafayette, although if the committee ultimately recommends some kind of “revenue-enhancing” measure, the council will take it under advisement. Nor will the committee consider changes to consolidated government, which parish voters have twice endorsed at the ballot box.
“I’m not worried about consolidation, deconsolidation — I’m not worried about the charter,” Naquin says. “I want to focus on our current structure, how we currently operate and how do we currently fund our needs in the government that we’re in today — not try to reinvent the wheel or recreate the government. Let’s focus on working within our current needs and how do we come up with those revenue sources.”