Brief: Key numbers to watch in LCG’s new budget

Man holding a microphone in a white shirt
Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory answers questions about the Homewood Drive detention pond project at a Milton Civic Organization meeting on Tuesday, June 13, 2023. Photo by Travis Gauthier

 The gist: Mayor-President Josh Guillory released his annual budget proposal for Lafayette Consolidated Government Tuesday, kicking off the city-parish’s weeks-long budget hearing process, which will begin in earnest at 9 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 10. Until then, here are four key figures in Guillory’s election-year proposal and one that is soon to come.

▸ $41 million: The beginning and ending balance for the city’s cash reserves. In other words, no projected deficit or surplus. This bucks a general trend among administrations, including Guillory’s, of balancing budgets with city deficits in recent years.

▸ $202 million: Total projected tax receipts. Annual revenue estimates serve as a target for budget proposals and a limit for spending the councils might want to add during budget hearings this summer 

▸ Revenue projections match this year’s expected collections and set a fairly conservative expectation for the amount of money available given Lafayette’s recent boom in tax collections, which have grown by more than 10% since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

▸ $33 million: The portion of LCG’s budget to be allocated between city and parish tax dollars for shared expenditures. City tax dollars account for about 81% of that $33 million total

▸ The City Council in June rejected an unusual bid by Guillory and the Parish Council to endorse the existing allocation — typically set each budget cycle. And City Council members have said they intend to push the issue during budget deliberations in the coming weeks.

▸ $2.9 million: That’s the spare cash expected to be available in the parish general fund next year. It’s a significant improvement on the balance inherited by Guillory and the new Parish Council, which stood at about $115,000 when they took office in 2020.

▸ Blistering sales tax revenue in the unincorporated parts of the parish are behind the rebound. Collections jumped from $4.9 million in 2019 to $7.1 million in 2022. Growth in property tax revenues, which fund other parts of the parish government, reduced the need to dip into the parish’s general fund.

▸ One missing figure? The cost of raises for the city’s fire and police departments. Guillory said Tuesday his administration is close to finalizing the details for another pay bump. Once included, they’ll likely move LCG into deficit spending.

 Guillory successfully pushed the City Council to set aside $10 million in 2020 for future fire and police salaries, and about $4.9 million of that remained unallocated in Guillory’s proposed budget Tuesday. CAO Cydra Wingerter said Tuesday that the annual costs to the city are still being worked out but will total around $2 million across both departments. The complete plan is expected to be released ahead of the council’s Aug. 8 meeting.

Correction: A version of this report published in the July 26, 2023, edition of The Wire incorrectly stated the estimated cost of proposed raises for fire and police personnel. We regret the error.