What changes to the parish budget and tax structure will you consider to stabilize finances, meet state mandated expenses and invest in parish infrastructure?

Nancy Marcotte
Nancy Marcotte
Candidate for Mayor-President

Prior to addressing anything with regard to the structures of the city or parish budgets, we have to address the transparency issue. The people of Lafayette no longer trust that their government is wisely spending the money allocated to them. I will implement the Louisiana Checkbook so that taxpayers can see where their tax dollars are being spent.

Josh Guillory
Josh Guillory
Candidate for Mayor-President

My administration will examine every department’s budget throughout each fiscal year. Any overages will be brought to the attention of the Councils, and I will lead in efforts to rededicate surplus money to priorities such as drainage, roads and traffic, and public safety. These initiatives are the pillars of government. If we can achieve these goals, everything else will fall into place.

One example of budget cuts will be to stop contracting out so much legal expenses. I would like dedicated staff attorneys that can handle a majority of (if not all) legal work for LCG. Dedicated staff attorneys that are accounted for in the budget is far more cost effective to taxpayers than contracted attorneys who can bill by the hour. Just from November 2018 through August 2019, we have spent over $2.5 million on outsourced legal fees. How much of this money could be used to give our brave law enforcement officers a much needed pay raise or add fire protection in our unincorporated areas? Another example is placing new hired employees in the PERS retirement system as opposed to MERS. Doing so would save our budget millions just in a few years. I want to emphasize that this change will be only for new hires only. These two examples coupled with reexamining each department’s budget throughout the fiscal year are just a few examples. The bottom line is that LCG’s budget is anywhere from $600 million to $700 million. We have the money to focus on our priorities. We do not need to raise taxes to meet our priorities. If we fall short financially on issues such as drainage or major road projects, we should expect help from our Legislators in Baton Rouge and our Louisiana Delegation in Washington.

Carlos Harvin

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Carlee Alm-LaBar
Carlee Alm-LaBar
Candidate for Mayor-President

The parish budget is not just broke—it’s broken. One of the reasons I pushed for the charter amendments and for separate parish and city councils is because consolidation has not worked out well for either the city or the parish because the underlying budget issues that led to consolidation in the first place—a dwindling tax base in the parish faced with growing demands—have never been addressed.

We have to be blunt with taxpayers. The parish is broke. Out of a $12.9 million parish general fund this year, the fund balance is budgeted at $99,000. That’s less than 1% fund balance. By comparison, the city’s general fund fund balance is almost $39 million—or about 37% of expenditures. In government accounting, a fund balance of 20% of expenditures is considered a baseline minimum. The parish is broke.

But we got here, in part, because for years the parish has been funding functions that are part of consolidation that are not core functions of a parish government. We have to address the underlying structural problems in the budget, and how we allocate the costs of consolidation. Only then can we get to the root of the issue and make the necessary cuts to restore the parish’s fund balance to a healthy level. The voters of the parish have made it loud and clear that they do not support new tax revenues. And so I will be very transparent about the cuts that will take place to get the parish budget back in line.

Simone Champagne

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