At least four members of the City-Parish Council are ready to begin a serious parishwide discussion about making the parish side of city-parish government sustainable, a topic I wrote about in this month’s Independent.
Those four members — Kevin Naquin in District 1, Jay Castille in 2, Kenneth Boudreaux (4) and Bruce Conque (6) — will being reviewing recommendations of the joint government-citizen Future Needs/Funding Sources committee that studied Lafayette Consolidated Government for more than a year.
This week the councilmen released an open letter to residents of Lafayette Parish:
Our Resolution: Fixing Lafayette Parish Government
2017 will be a year of reckoning for all of us as your representatives on the Lafayette City-Parish Council. We must provide the political leadership to correct the fiscal and legislative weaknesses of Lafayette Consolidated Government.
The most urgent of our priorities is to reinforce the Parish budget. In our 20 plus years of Lafayette Consolidated Government, the Parish has not progressed past the fiscal challenges that have existed since 1996. Parish property taxes in most instances fall short of funding the services for which they are dedicated. The shortfall is subsidized by the Parish general fund which is dependent on sales tax revenues that continue to decline due either to the down economy or being captured by municipal annexations. The bottom line is a 2016-2017 parish budget that narrowly avoids deficit spending by substantial cut backs.
The Lafayette Parish and City governments maintain separate budgets and the resolution of the parish fiscal crisis is neither a legal nor moral obligation of the City of Lafayette; nor that of the other five municipalities in the parish. It is the responsibility of Parish government to assure that basic parish needs are met.
We are the four members of the Council who have been charged with reviewing the Parish budget and to recommend how to correct fiscal deficiencies. If approved by the Council, the proposal(s) could be presented to voters in the fall of 2017.
The Lafayette City-Parish form of governing must then be addressed so that the respective constituencies can be better represented and served.
We welcome you to partner with us as we prepare and plan for our future.
Happy New Year!
Kevin Naquin, District 1
Jay Castille, District 2
Kenneth Boudreaux, District 4
Bruce Conque, District 6