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.
A federal jury found attorney Daniel Stanford guilty Friday afternoon on eight of 13 counts for his role in the Curious Goods conspiracy.
Lafayette City-Court Judge Francie Bouillion has served on the bench for two decades since winning a special election to replace Judge Kaliste Saloom when he retired in 1994.
The Houston firm said Friday in its weekly report that 1,575 rigs were exploring for oil and 338 for gas. One was listed as miscellaneous. A year ago there were 1,776 active rigs.
A crew began erecting the 25-foot mini-wheel late morning Friday in anticipation of the evening’s Hottest Night of the Year party at the park.
Frances Boothe of Nunez, who also happens to be filmmaker Stephen Meaux’s grandmother, prepares a cool-weather fave.
The magazine's senior football writer also predicts a break-out year for Saints fourth-year running back Mark Ingram.
New Iberia colonial or Broussard traditional home
The LPSB is poised and ready to move forward with the termination of Pat Cooper following a discussion Thursday with the attorney hired for the investigation of the superintendent, but a decision of this magnitude should be left up to the new board seated in January, especially with three pro-investigation board members bailing out come the new year.
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Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Gulf Coast ceremonies marking the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina have begun.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says there is little known about the effects of tiger prawns on indigenous Louisiana shrimp. But, officials say the reports they're seeking will help state biologists monitor the distribution of the prawns and determine the possible presence of spawning populations.
Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh rested his regulars and watched with delight as Ray Rice's backups ground out 214 yards rushing in a 22-13 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night.
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High-profile criminal defense attorney Daniel Stanford awaits his fate in the Curious Goods conspiracy trial.
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A federal judge on Thursday asked lawyers battling over Louisiana's new, restrictive abortion law for an agreement that apparently could let clinics stay open — at least for a while — after the law takes effect Sept. 1.
Three bedroom Port Barre cottage or three bedroom historic district Opelousas home
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It will be next month before Gov. Bobby Jindal will likely get a chance to change the membership of a South Louisiana flood board that is suing dozens of oil, gas and pipeline companies.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
An abortion rights organization wants a federal judge to block enforcement of Louisiana's new abortion law while its lawsuit to overturn the law makes its way through court.
Republican presidential prospects Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal are planning to speak at an Iowa Christian conservative event in September.
The attention surrounding Victor White III has spiked with the release of last week’s autopsy report, which has raised a number of serious questions about the night of his death and has put the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office under an increased wave of scrutiny as more national media outlets are jumping on the story, most recently seen on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show.
The Acadiana Center for the Arts and the Lafayette Economic Development Authority have announced a new artist stipend program, ArtSpark, designed to offer financial aid to local artists.
A group supporting taxpayer-funded private school tuition vouchers is appealing a federal judge's order that Louisiana must provide regular reports to federal officials on the state's voucher program.
The Discovery Channel has canceled reality TV star Will Hayden's popular "Sons of Guns" show after his arrest on an aggravated rape charge.
The LPSB will finally hear from the attorney it hired to investigate the superintendent at a special meeting Thursday at 4 p.m.
Three bedroom traditional or two bedroom Victorian cottage