With an  April 20 deadline approaching for its recommendation(s) on changes to Lafayette’s form of city-parish government — or repeal or radical modification of the charter — members of the Lafayette Charter Commission anticipate an opinion from the state attorney general’s office by the end of the month.

The commission, through City-Parish Attorney Pat Ottinger, requested an opinion from the AG’s office a few months ago on whether a sitting council’s job description can be modified based on the results of a city-wide or parish-wide referendum concerning the Lafayette Home Rule Charter. Ottinger, in what may be his final major act of counseling for consolidated government — he announced his resignation last month and is expected to be replaced Feb. 1  — says Monday he met last week with an assistant attorney general who said the opinion is forthcoming.

City-Parish Council elections are in October, but a referendum stemming from the commission could also be on the same ballot. While state law prohibits ending an elected officials term early due to a change to the charter, commissioners want to know, in the event a referendum is approved creating a separate council and mayor for the city of Lafayette, if the duties of the City-Parish Council elected in October and sworn into office in January 2012 can be modified.

If the AG says yes, this could open the door for elections for a Lafayette City Council and mayor sometime in 2012. If the AG says no, the city of Lafayette will likely have to wait until fall 2016 — the end of the four-year term of the CPC elected this fall — before it can vote on a new mayor and city council, assuming a referendum clearing the way for a new mayor and council is approved by voters.

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