Pleased with the progress of the Lafayette Charter Commission? Frustrated that the city of Lafayette evidently will not be given a choice to repeal the Home Rule Charter? Monday’s meeting will offer the public one of two opportunities to address the nine-member panel.
Over the last month the nine-member commission — five representing the city of Lafayette, the remainder representing unincorporated Lafayette Parish — has taken a somewhat circuitous route in arriving at what will likely be a parishwide proposition that could give the city of Lafayette greater control over a few matters that pertain only to the city of Lafayette by effectively creating a five-member “city council” within the City-Parish Council. This greater autonomy hinges on the parish being able to successfully redraw the council districts so that five districts are wholly and entirely within the city; the remaining four districts would represent the rest of the parish including the five other municipalities.
This is a “next best thing” scenario for city residents who had hoped the commission would vote to put a proposition before voters creating separate, independent councils/chief executives for the city and the parish. The commission was headed in that direction until about a month ago, much to the chagrin of many in the city who believe city residents should be given the choice about remaining part of Lafayette Consolidated Government and who recognize the inequality in the city of Lafayette being the only municipality in the parish in which non-city residents have a say in city finances and affairs.
A current draft of the amended charter grants the five-member “city council” sole authority over only three aspects of parish government: Lafayette Utilities System, the Lafayette Public Power Authority (which governs LUS) and Consolidated Sewerage District No. 1. One can infer from this section of the proposed charter — Part B of Section 2-01 of Article II (on page 3 of the draft) — that city-finance issues the council faced over the last year like purchase of the horse farm property will remain subject to the discretion of the full, nine-member council.
However, Commissioner Bruce Conque at last week’s meeting successfully introduced a proposition that would grant the “city council” power over all matters that pertain only to the city. That language is not written into the current draft.
In fact, it can be argued that the current draft is even more unfair to the city of Lafayette because under the proposed redistricting plan those four “parish” members of the City-Parish Council would no longer represent any city of Lafayette residents but would still have sway over city affairs. Currently every member of the CPC represents some city residents.
The draft charter can be viewed at two brick-and-mortar locations: the City-Parish Council office at City Hall and all public libraries in the parish. It can also be viewed online here.