Despite the City-Parish Council approving an introductory ordinance last Tuesday granting the Lafayette Charter Commission an additional nine months to finish its business, the commission is likely to conclude its nine-month task Monday evening with what is expected to be a 6-3 vote in favor of presenting parish voters with an up-or-down proposition on repealing the home rule charter and returning to separate governments for the city and parish of Lafayette.
Monday’s meeting is the last scheduled meeting of the commission, which a few weeks ago voted to request the additional time. However, at the time the commission was knotted up about what exactly to present to voters: a minor tweak to the charter giving the city control over Lafayette Utilities System, a more significant amendment giving the city control over all city finances/ordinances, or a multiple-choice ballot that includes one of the aforementioned options plus the option of repealing the charter and creating separate governments.
It wasn’t until the day before last week’s meeting, on Sunday, that parish Commissioner Karen Carson reversed course and decided that voters should get the up-or-down proposition on separate governments. Her decision swung the momentum in favor of the four city commissioners who had lobbied for that proposition all along. Parish Commissioner Keith Miller also came on board with the “separate governments” coalition, creating a 6-3 majority. City Commissioner Don Bacque and parish Commissioners Dale Bourgeois and Greg Manual remain, at last count, opposed to what is effectively deconsolidation.
Assuming the dynamic remains the same as last week and the commission votes in favor of a proposition that would create separate governments, the commission will conclude its business Monday. The CPC, meantime, will then be required to set an election date — likely in November of this year. If the parishwide proposition passes, it would mean the end of Lafayette Parish’s 15-year experiment in consolidation.
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