Surprising council members, the Guillory administration will introduce Tuesday a plan for spending $83 million in federal coronavirus aid.
Link: Lafayette City Council to consider committee to explore deconsolidation, separate city mayor — The Advocate
City Councilman Pat Lewis will propose a resolution creating a committee to weigh the benefit of consolidation for the city of Lafayette. Called the “Protect the City Committee,” the group would evaluate the costs and limitations of Lafayette’s current form of government, which combines city and parish services and departments.
A 2018 parishwide vote created separate city and parish councils, Lafayette Consolidated Government’s current configuration, but kept administration functions consolidated under the mayor-president.
Mayor-President Josh Guillory supported deconsolidation as a candidate but has recently acknowledged flipping his position on the issue. Guillory and the City Council have been at frequent odds.
Lafayette City District 1 Councilman Pat Lewis is proposing a resolution that would form a committee from which to gather the input of a diverse range of citizens on the benefits of City-Parish consolidation to the City of Lafayette.
Click here to read council members Glenn Lazard and Nanette Cook’s press release about backing away from their effort to pass a local mask ordinance. The gist: Lafayette City Councilman Glenn Lazard is moving forward on a local mask mandate he hopes will tighten and potentially expand upon the state order that went into effect Monday.
The gist: Spurred by a spike in flooded homes in his district, Councilman Pat Lewis has moved to put a quarter cent sales tax, assessed parishwide, before voters this fall. Public notice of the new tax will be offered at Tuesday’s City-Parish Council meeting. The council would vote in July on calling a fall election.
The sales tax would generate roughly $13 million annually. Lewis tells me he’d like to pursue a federal match to increase the buying power of the funds. Dollars generated from the tax would accelerate the current deferred maintenance program initiated by the Robideaux administration, he says, and go to new projects not included on that list. The tax would sunset after five years.
“There’s a lot of work to be done,” Lewis says. “In the last flood there’s areas that never flooded before in 30 or 40 years.” Lewis represents Downtown and a large chunk of the northern limits of the city and the parish, portions of which saw increased flood activity in this month’s squall, the third 100-year rain event in the last three years.
Drainage currently receives $10 million each year after a 2017 rededication of the combined public health and mosquito control property tax shifted $2.5 million in new money over to an existing millage. That proposition, a brainchild of Mayor-President Joel Robideaux, also produced a one-time $9 million transfer to kick-start the first 27 of 77 deferred maintenance projects.
Another one-time transfer of $8 million, out of the parish library system’s fund balance, is before voters this fall. There is roughly $32 million in projects on the maintenance program’s full work list of projects. LCG’s public works department has estimated an overhaul of the parishwide stormwater management system could cost between $500 million and $875 million.
At least one council member won’t support the sales tax, saying it’s not a long-term solution to an ongoing problem. Councilman Jay Castille says the parish’s massive drainage issues would be best addressed through a millage. “The millage we have in place needs to be increased,” Castille maintains. “In five years when you’re out of money, what do you do, ask voters for another tax?”
What to watch for: Whether a recently tax-averse electorate will pay more for better drainage. Lewis’ proposition faces an uphill battle given the political climate around government spending. Many voters and candidates advocate that enough drainage funding can be obtained by shifting money out of services like the public library system. Others believe only more revenue can accomplish a comprehensive fix. How to pay for better drainage, coming hot on the heels of another big rain this year, will figure prominently in parish elections across the board.
The gist: Candidates are peppering inboxes with announcement releases for the new Lafayette City Council, but it remains unclear whether the elections will go on. Overtures from state officials leave open the possibility that Lafayette will not seat two new councils this fall.