The Lafayette City-Parish Council will hold a special meeting Tuesday night — in addition to its regular meeting — to vote on an introductory ordinance that would grant a 2 percent pay raise for Lafayette Consolidated Government employees. The pay hike, proposed by City-Parish President Joey Durel, would be paid for through higher-than-expected sales tax collections.

In a Dec. 6 letter to council members, Durel lays out his rationale for the pay raise:
As you know, my 2010-2011 proposed budget did not include a recommendation for a general increase for LCG employees. During budget hearings (and in my budget message), I suggested that any increase be deferred until we had an opportunity to see actual sales tax collections and other financial information.

Chief Financial Officer Becky Lalumia has updated the proforma and, as we all had hoped, actual revenues exceeded our conservative budget for last fiscal year. For the first month of the current fiscal year, we have also seen a modest increase in sales tax collections over what was projected.

As a result, I ask that you call a special meeting of the council to consider the implementation of a 2% general increase for LCG employees. This decision comes after much deliberation at a time when other communities have had to furlough or lay off employees. We have been most fortunate during tough economic times and know that our employees realize this. We thank them for their understanding during this process and for their hard work over the past year.

According to a Dec. 6 memo from Lalumia to Durel, the 2 percent across-the-board pay raise will cost LCG $2 million. Half that cost will be drawn from the City General Fund; the remainder will come from the Parish General Fund ($100,000), utility funds ($600,000) and an assortment of other, smaller funds that are either grant-funded or self-supporting ($300,000).

Further, Lalumia indicates that LCG ended fiscal year 2009-2010 with a roughly 1 percent growth over the prior year, and the final seven months of FY 09/10 showed 5 percent growth over the same period the year before. Lalumia opines that these revenue increases will allow LCG to estimate 3 percent growth for its budget projection, and that LCG’s year-end balances will be higher than projected by about $3.6 million. Lalumia stresses that her projections are “very preliminary,” and if the projections don’t pan out LCG may be forced to consider “in lieu of tax” increases — a hike in fees that LUS, a city-owned enterprise, pays to LCG because it’s not subject to a sales tax — and/or departmental cuts.

If approved Tuesday by the council, the ordinance will go up for final adoption on Dec. 21.

Click here to read the ordinance and supporting documentation.

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