The Lafayette Charter Commission on Monday began discussion of what many residents in the city of Lafayette believe is the process’ goal: ensuring the city’s ultimate self-determination and sovereignty. 

Commissioner Bruce Conque offered a PowerPoint presentation to his fellow commissioners outlining “in a broad brush stroke” a model for future governance in Lafayette Parish that is based loosely on the consolidated form of government that has been in place in Duval County, Fla., of which the city of Jacksonville is the county seat, for more than 40 years.

“Tonight, it is my intent to make an argument for an independent city of Lafayette government,” Conque said.

According to Conque’s model, the parish of Lafayette would be divided into seven political subdivisions, or services districts: one urban service district for each of the municipalities – Broussard, Carencro, Duson, Lafayette, Scott and Youngsville – and a seventh general service district for unincorporated Lafayette Parish. Each service district would have a council and mayor, as the smaller municipalities currently do, save for the service district comprising unincorporated Lafayette Parish, which would have only a council and no chief executive. According to Conque’s model, the general (unincorporated) services district would use intergovernmental agreements for its services and would not use a layered bureaucracy of departments; it could exist with as small a staff as the elected council and a few employees. Additionally, none of the smaller municipalities’ current forms of government would be affected by the change to services districts, which is more or less a alternative way of saying “municipal boundaries.”

But the former District 6 City-Parish Councilman was quick to note that the model he proposes doesn’t necessarily require a repeal of the current Lafayette Home Rule Charter.

“No, this is not a call for deconsolidation,” Conque stressed. “You can’t undo what does not exist. There is no consolidation of governments in Lafayette Parish.”

Conque pointed to the sovereignty of the smaller municipalities in making his case that Lafayette (Parish) Consolidated Government is not, nor has it ever been, truly consolidated. Moreover, Conque noted, the accounting books for the city and parish of Lafayette are also separate. The only municipality in the parish that does not have complete control of its affairs is the largest – Lafayette.

“I’m certainly open to other options,” Conque acknowledged. “However, my priority will always be an independent government for the city of Lafayette. Give the citizens of Lafayette equal status with those who reside in Broussard, Carencro, Duson, Scott and Youngsville. Give us our own council and mayor.”

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