City-Parish attorney Pat Ottinger says a public petition, with signatures from 20 percent of the residents of Lafayette Parish, can force a vote on the deconsolidation of city and parish government. Ottinger offered his legal interpretation in response to a question posed by Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux at Tuesday night's council meeting over whether residents had the power to bring deconsolidation to a vote on their own. Petitioners would need to bring a petition to the city-parish council, then would have 60 days to obtain signatures of 20 percent of Lafayette Parish residents, more than 25,000 people.

The issue of deconsolidation currently sits before the council, which is scheduled to vote next month on whether to put the question to voters. That outcome is seen as unlikely, however, because it would require six of nine council votes to put the issue to a public vote.

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