Walter Pierce

So much for planning? LINC under scrutiny by council

by Walter Pierce

The Lafayette Consolidated Council Wednesday inserted an amendment into the proposed 2009-2010 budget that could ultimately slash $400,000 earmarked for jump-starting the comprehensive plan for Lafayette's growth. The funding is being sought by City-Parish President Joey Durel, a proponent of the LINC -- Lafayette IN a Century -- Comprehensive Master Plan. It would be used for hiring consultants to devise strategies for executing the plan.

The amendment by District 3 Councilman Brandon Shelvin was objected to by fellow councilmen Don Bertrand (District 7) and Keith Patin (District 8), meaning the amendment will face a vote by the full council during finalization of the budget. If the council votes to approve the amendment, the $400,000 would move to the council’s general reserve and could be used for other purposes.

Durel was unfazed by the action. “As I told them tonight, on a lot of things that they’ve done, they will need it to be a 6-3 vote,” he said after the hearing, “because I would veto it.” If the council approves the amendment it would need a super-majority — six votes — to override a Durel veto. The city-parish president says he doubts the council could muster the super-majority to override a veto. “I can’t imagine that the council would vote to take money that’s earmarked for Planning, Zoning and Codes ... and just take it out for arbitrary uses,” he said.

Last week several business and community leaders urged council members to embrace the LINC plan, which was developed by dozens of volunteers and LCG planners over the course of nearly 20 years. The comprehensive plan lays out strategies for Lafayette’s future growth and prosperity, addressing issues like drainage, roads and other infrastructure, neighborhood development, as well as ways to buttress Lafayette’s vibrant cultural life. Shelvin’s amendment confirms that there is opposition to the comprehensive plan by some on the council. “I don’t think it will pass,” Durel said of the amendment. “It would be irresponsible.”

It is one of dozens of amendments council members have inserted into Durel’s proposed budget; each will have to be voted on during finalization, ensuring some arduous meetings in the near future. “If the money is removed, certainly the mayor would not be pleased,” LCG Chief Administrative Officer Dee Stanley said of the funding for LINC. “It’s in his budget. He thinks we need to move on it.”