While Lafayette’s economic forecast isn’t bright, it’s not near as dark as the mayor-president has made it out to be. That means the City Council can avoid drastic cuts.
Council Preview 9/15: Overriding mayor’s veto of a lawyer for the City Council, money for rental assistance, controversial “no standing” law
The gist: While Tuesday’s meetings shouldn’t hit marathon status, there’s still a lot to cover including some brewing controversies: a parishwide “no standing” ordinance fought by advocates for the homeless and the ACLU, a proposal to spend $3.5 million in parish dollars to fix a dilapidated garage, and a public hearing for 16 different properties whose owners are protesting their assessed values.
Council Preview 9/1: Higher taxes, fighting for city autonomy, millions in new spending, new restrictions on citizens
The gist: Tax increases, budget battles, new restrictions on citizens, short-term rentals, millions of dollars being spent on parish parks and the Buchanan garage are just some of what the councils will work through at tomorrow night’s meetings. All of this is set against a backdrop of rapidly deteriorating race relations and an increasingly embattled mayor-president.
LCG’s budgetmaking process can be complicated in a normal year, and this is far from a normal year. Newly split councils, a mayor-president deadset on slashing budgets, and an uncertain economy has created a perfect storm for a tense budgetmaking process. As the councils round the corner on amending this budget, these are some of the top issues still to be resolved.
COLUMN: Cutting quality of life services will backfire, hurting Lafayette’s economy for years to come
In order to be economically competitive as a city, Lafayette needs to offer quality of life amenities. In the rush to cut budgets, Mayor-President Guillory is putting the city’s quality of life at risk, reducing its ability to retain and attract people, especially young families.
Council Preview 8/18: A report on the LUS report, go-cups (again), early voting in North Lafayette, splitting up city and parish parks
Here are the highlights for Tuesday night’s city, parish, and joint council meetings. To view the full agendas click here, select 8/18/2020 from the dropdown menu, and then click on the agenda or agenda item you want to dive into.
Council Preview 8/4: Another special meeting on parks, LUS investigations, flood modeling, new early voting sites and scooters
The gist: Other than filling 40 appointments to boards and commissions, these should be relatively light council meetings, though everyone could probably use a break after the 10-hour marathon meetings two weeks ago. The main hot-button topics are a report on the ongoing LUS investigation, the addition of early voting sites, and the potential establishment of new rules that could welcome shared services back to our streets. And in late-breaking news, the City Council is calling an emergency meeting to consider an ordinance splitting up city and parish funding for the parks department.
The City Council has scheduled an Aug. 4 emergency meeting, immediately after tomorrow’s regular meeting, to split up funding of the parks department. An ordinance authored by City Councilwomen Liz Hebert and Nanette Cook would keep city and parish funding separate in the parks department. That means the City Council would have control over how city dollars are spent on city parks and the Parish Council would control how parish dollars are spent on parish parks. This would address a host of issues, like the one that occurred last week when the Parish Council failed to second the opening of discussion over an emergency ordinance to continue funding the rec centers the mayor-president wants to shut down. Both councils, however, would still have to approve the overall budget.
Lots to report on at LUS. While there are no votes happening with LUS, there will be two reports to the City Council, one giving update on the LUS investigations and the other on the status of LUS’s IRP. At the last council meeting, the administration dropped a bit of a bombshell that the missing emails aren’t actually missing, so there’s a possibility of more fireworks to come.
There will also be a report on AOC’s services. Acadiana Open Channel streams all council meetings as well as most LCG special meetings and events so the public can stay connected to the democratic process. It’s a service that has taken on extra importance in the midst of a pandemic when many can’t risk attending in person. AOC’s services are paid for by franchise fees paid by local cable TV and Internet providers.
Disclosure: AOC Community Media serves as The Current’s fiscal agent.
So many appointments. Between the City and Parish Councils there will be 40 board/committee seats filled with appointments, including a number of seats on entities like the Heymann Center, the Lafayette Science Museum, and the Cajundome, all of which are facing reductions in their subsidies from the city general fund.
New early voting sites moving forward. The Parish Council will vote on final adoption of an ordinance to partner with the cities of Broussard and Youngsville to have them cover the costs of setting up an early voting site at the East Regional Library. The City Council will vote to introduce an ordinance to partner with the parish to cover the costs of setting up an early voting side at the Martin Luther King Recreation Center. Setting up this second early voting site is projected to cost the city $66,000.
Scooters may be returning, but there will be rules, lots of rules. Up for final adoption by the joint councils is an extensive set of rules that could allow for the return of shared electric scooter services like Bird. These scooters were originally quite controversial; while some loved them, others hated how the scooters ended up littered everywhere. With these new rules in place, at least some of those bad behaviors should be curtailed. That’s because all shared scooter operators will have to pay application fees and a registration fee for each scooter and face penalties if they’re not maintained and operated properly.
LCG may hire UL to study flooding and channel capacity in Lafayette Parish. UL researchers have already developed a model of how water flows through our parish. The joint councils will vote to introduce an ordinance authorizing the Mayor-President to enter into a cooperative endeavor agreement to pay those researchers $52,000 to study potential changes to Lafayette Parish’s drainage system.
The parish has a final vote on handing the keys to Arceneaux Park to the city of Broussard. The parish already set up a similar arrangement for Foster Park with the city of Youngsville. If this passes, the city of Broussard will become responsible for maintaining and improving Arceneaux Park. Deals like this are being pursued because other cities in the parish want to see these parks become quality of life assets and avoid disinvestment. And the parish simply doesn’t have the money to keep them up.
Council Preview: Buildings, sewers, help for the needy, budget cuts and more appointments than you can count
The gist: Tuesday’s agendas are jam-packed, with 130 items across five meetings: the normal city, parish and joint council meetings plus two emergency meetings, one for the parish and one for the joint councils. There’s everything from updates and reports on a range of topics to big next steps on major road and sewer projects, to dozens of appointments to boards and commissions, to making new rules for AirBnBs, to significant budget cuts, and beyond.
The gist: This week’s council meetings include a number of items that will tee up bigger projects and decisions to come affecting everything from sewer capacity and Vermilion flooding to how the budgeting process will work and how parks will operate.
The gist: The city, parish and joint council meetings are relatively uneventful this week, though some moves are in the works on the city budget, bond sales and spending CREATE funds on parish parks.
Regardless of the merit’s of Mayor-President Josh Guillory small business forgivable loan program, the process he’s used doesn’t lead to good policymaking while ignoring our community’s looming housing crisis.
Lafayette’s city general fund is facing such large deficits that even zeroing out what critics call government waste won’t be enough to close the gap.