The gist: Outgoing officials want to go out with a bang. Tuesday’s council meeting, one of the last of the year, is chockablock with major initiatives. On the table: the LUS inquiry, more pay raises and six new taxing districts, one of which would finance developing a river walk on the Vermilion.
Robideaux opens the books on his LUS inquiry
At a special meeting of the Lafayette Public Utilities Authority, Mayor-President Joel Robideaux will unpack the findings of his ongoing inquiry into alleged improper payments at LUS Fiber. Robideaux intimated in an email last week that he would unseal interviews with LUS and Fiber staffers conducted by LCG lawyers. LPUA meetings are held at 4:30 p.m inside city hall.
Get caught up, quickly. LUS and LUS Fiber have been under fire for a pair of potential violations of a state law that prohibits government dollars from propping up the municipal telecom. The most recent of the two, $8 million paid over eight years for a power outage monitoring system, was self-reported by Robideaux in July. In October, Robideaux announced he was removing LUS and Fiber’s interim directors, claiming the swap was made to “facilitate an internal review on behalf of the Public Service Commission,” and connected the review to the power outage monitoring payments. The PSC denies any involvement and has distanced itself from Robideaux’s attempts to link his efforts to its limited oversight. The controversy spurred terse exchanges between Robideaux and Councilman Jay Castille.
$3.7 million in new pay raises up for final adoption
Earlier this month, the council approved $3.8 million in new raises for city police; now it’s got three more raises to consider:
- $2.6 million for Lafayette Fire Department
- $1.1 million for all other LCG employees
- $137,000 for the city marshal’s office
If all of these raises get approved and these increases aren’t offset elsewhere in the budget, the city’s formerly flush general fund will be depleted in very short order. A proposal to eliminate currently vacant positions from the budget, in a bid to free up dollars for the pay raises, is also up for final adoption.
Six new taxing districts proposed, including one for a riverwalk
Robideaux has proposed setting up six new economic development districts that would levy 1% sales and 2% hotel occupancy taxes in each tax increment financing district to pay for infrastructure meant to spur development. The ordinances include cooperative endeavor agreements with various public and private partners. One proposal would create a TIF district to finance the development of a riverwalk promenade along the Vermilion near the old Trappey’s canning plant. The measures are up for introduction and would not be up for final vote until December. Here’s the list:
- Downtown Lafayette Economic Development District
CEA with Downtown Development Authority
- University Gateway Economic Development District
CEA with Townfolk Inc., and Oasis Community Coterie
- Trappey Economic Development District
CEA with Trappey Riverfront Development LLC
- Northway Economic Development District
CEA with Pride Opportunity Development Developers
- Holy Rosary Institute Economic Development District
CEA with Holy Rosary Redevelopment
- Acadiana Mall Economic Development District
No partner identified
EDDs are special taxing districts where additional taxes or fees are collected, and that money is then dedicated to projects benefiting those districts.
Girard Park Drive rezoning for new apartments
The rezoning will allow for the construction of a 140-unit apartment and office complex by Lafayette General. The rezoning has already received significant pushback from nearby neighbors who say a development of this size will hurt the character of their neighborhood. The zoning commission voted against recommending the changes.
News + Notes
State freezes $15M in dispute over LCG retirement
Billed as a way to save millions, LCG’s withdrawal from the state municipal pension system has been a drawn-out, messy affair that’s now headed for court.
City Council passes Guillory investigation to legislative auditor
The council’s contracted auditor turned over its findings, which will remain confidential until and unless the LLA decides to release them.
Registration requirements likely for Lafayette short-term rentals
Requiring short-term rentals to register with the city is a likely compromise, but operators and opponents remain divided on restrictions like conditional permitting.