The City-Parish Council could again vote on a proposed ordinance that would allow LUS officials to enact so-called betterment agreements with developers, ensuring that developers share in the cost of installing infrastructure upgrades before tapping into city-owned water, sewer, electric and fiber-optic lines. The ordinance has to clear the Lafayette Public Utilities Authority in a separate meeting an hour ahead of Tuesday's council meeting.
The ordinance has already been shot down by the full council after getting approval by the LPUA — the five council members whose districts comprise at least 60 percent city residents. A second attempt to pass the ordinance failed at the LPUA level on a 2-1 vote this past spring when two of the LPUA members failed to attend the meeting, which is held an hour before the regular council meeting.
The purpose of the ordinance is to allow LUS “to fund certain water, sewer, electric and telecommunications projects in such a fashion as to have excess capacity needed for future development in the area to be serviced by the facilities,” according to an internal LCG memorandum. “The proposed ordinance also allows LUS to require future users of the funded facilities to pay their proportionate share of the demand they will place upon such facilities.”
In other words, when a new subdivision, for example, is built in an LUS service area — that would be within the city limits of Lafayette — the developer will share the cost of upgrading the utility capacity to accommodate future development, and future developers will also pay to tap into the system. Historically, LUS ratepayers have footed the bill for such improvements in the form of higher utility rates.
In early January of this year, the LPUA, which according to the Home Rule Charter is the governing authority for LUS, voted 3-2 to approve the ordinance. But for the first time in the 20-year history of LCG, the full council nixed it by a 6-3 vote.
To read the ordinance and related documents, click here.
For more on why this issue is bigger than subdivisions and speaks to critical flaws in the Home Rule Charter that governs LCG, click here.