Friday, March 1, 2013
That “blue ribbon” committee on taxes in Lafayette Parish can’t commence its work soon enough. To even get us within shouting distance of fair will be a slog, and by fair I mean fair to the city of Lafayette.
When the tweed-trimmed politicos met in mid-February to commence this parishwide discussion, the parsimonious patriots showed up to carp about cutting spending. But Lafayette Consolidated Government isn’t known for its profligate spending. Even if we cut out funding for arts and social services we’ll still be in a tricky strait because the city of Lafayette since consolidation in the mid 1990s has shouldered an inequitable amount of the burden for the parish’s overall prosperity. And as Lafayette goes so goes Lafayette Parish.
Consider just a couple of examples, starting with the Metropolitan Planning Organization.
Like most government agencies save for the Department of Swinger Party-Code Enforcement, the MPO isn’t an exciting one. It makes recommendations on how federal transportation dollars should be spent within the parish. It has its own staff of planners in an office at the Rosa Parks Center downtown. The MPO does important work.
The decision-making arm of the MPO is the Lafayette City-Parish Council, an obvious designation since the nine council members represent everyone in the parish.
By October of 2014 the MPO will be federally mandated to expand to include parts of Iberia Parish due to the 2010 census and the way Uncle Sam delineates metropolitan areas. It’s understandable that our friends in Iberia will want representation on the MPO when that time comes. They don’t want a bunch of Lafayette Parish guys making these decisions for them.
But here’s the kicker: Although the feds pay most of the cost of the MPO — salaries for staff members as well as the projects themselves — the city of Lafayette foots the bill for the operating costs. That’s about $100,000 annually. Chump change compared to the overall LCG budget. But parish government in this “consolidated” parish pays nothing, nor do Broussard, Carencro, Duson, Scott or Youngsville, although everyone in Lafayette Parish, via the council, has representation on the MPO.
Have the mayors of the smaller towns ever stepped forward to address this, to say, “Hey, Lafayette, we’ll pitch in our fair share!”? The short answer is no, although they’ve been happy to make sure those federal highway dollars are fairly shared.
This is an inequity born of consolidation when the city of Lafayette adopted a kind of noblesse oblige toward the rest of the parish.
The city of Lafayette maintains a golf course, Les Vieux Chenes on the south side, which probably attracts more golfers from Broussard and Youngsville due to its proximity to those towns. But, again, Lafayette’s Parks & Recreation Department, which operates and maintains our municipal golf courses, is funded solely by a property tax paid by city of Lafayette home- and business owners — a property tax approved in the early 1960s and one that hasn’t kept pace with the proliferation of parks, recreation centers, golf courses and sports fields. Everyone in the parish uses them, but city of Lafayette property owners fund them. And Parks & Rec is starving to death, subsidized by about $4 million annually from the general fund of the city of Lafayette. Like the MPO and a host of other agencies — notably our Public Works department, which serves the entire parish but uses vehicles and equipment owned by the city — Lafayette is doing the heavy lifting for this parish’s prosperity.
I suspect if Lafayette city voters knew in 1992 what we know now, consolidation would never have happened. Now it’s an albatross, because politicos in the satellite towns know a sweet deal when they see it. No wonder many of them lobbied against deconsolidation in 2011.
We don’t have a spending problem in Lafayette. We have a revenue problem, and fixing the way taxes are levied across the parish — and, yes, generating more revenue — to make it more fair for Lafayette is vital to everyone’s future.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Louisiana is drowning, quickly.
Law enforcement agencies are participating in a "Louisiana Heroin Summit," designed to address the recent rise in heroin use and drug-related deaths around the state.
State education officials are preparing to release performance scores for public schools and public school districts.
Saints coach Sean Payton is starting a new week by emphasizing, repeatedly, the many good things he noticed during New Orleans' latest loss.
Tuesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Oscar de la Renta dies; Pistorius sentenced; World Series begins and more national and international news for Tuesday, October 21, 2014.
We will be offering our recommendations on the constitutional amendments tomorrow.
Three bedroom in Lawtell or two bedroom in Rayne
Fall's new darling
The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings that dismissed the lawsuits against BP and other companies involved in the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.
White registration is down by 7,700 voters while black registration has shot up by 7,100 voters.
Even though it had been rumored for months, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu finally pulled the trigger recently on a major campaign shakeup that moved control over to a few Big Easy insiders.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Louisiana's health department says it will seek law changes to stop billing sexual assault victims for exams and tests.
An investment group led by Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets will buy the Louisiana power company Cleco for $3.4 billion.
It wasn’t the historic slashes to higher ed funding or the ensuing tuition spikes that recently had LSU’s student body and faculty riled up in collective outrage.
"I feel it is appropriate to speak up when there are topics that are being bandied about with little or no factual data to back them."
Will $400 be enough for the re-election campaign of LPSB's Hunter Beasley to overcome two years of holding our school system hostage and hurting the education of our children all because of a personal dislike of the superintendent?
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said Friday he expects his playing status in Detroit to be decided by coach Sean Payton on Sunday, shortly before the game.
Two bedroom cottage in Lafayette or three bedroom traditional in Erath
Gulf Brew ready threads
Lawmakers have sidestepped a decision on whether they accept claims from Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration that the state closed last year's books with a nearly $179 million surplus.
Coming off the high of a fourth quarter comeback against Tampa Bay and a helpful bye week, linebacker Junior Galette sees a real turnaround coming for New Orleans' struggling defense.
Former President Bill Clinton, the Democratic Party's most popular surrogate this fall, is heading to Louisiana early next week for a campaign rally with U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.
Time and again you hear people say DA Mike Harson is unbeatable because he's doled out political favors over the past 20 years. But a new lawsuit could end that speculation.
We welcome nominations from readers and leaders throughout the business community in Lafayette and the five surrounding parishes.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Ebola is kind of terrifying if you watch too much Fox News and CNN. Especially Fox, which makes everything look terrifying because, well, War on Christmas and Obama and all.
Local developer’s Lake Charles Gardens LLC purchases buildings and leases; land still owned by Dugas family.