Walter Pierce

‘D' word expected at next charter commish meeting

by Walter Pierce

Lafayette Consolidated Government’s recently formed charter commission will meet at 2 p.m. Monday in the council auditorium and the word that’s been on many lips in Lafayette in recent months — deconsolidation — will likely be discussed. A growing cadre of Lafayette residents, the vast majority of them city dwellers, has moved from grumbling about the parish’s consolidated form of government to openly discussing its abolishment.

Chief on Monday’s agenda is an amendment to change the wording in the charter concerning the prescribed time the council has to reapportion districts following the receipt of census numbers. But the fourth item on the agenda — “Consideration of Possible Amendments to Other Charter Sections” — will provide an opening for a member of the seven-person commission to bring up deconsolidation. “Three members have to agree to talk about a topic and whoever brings it up, if there’s three members that want to talk about it then we’ll discuss it,” says commission Chair Jay Castille, the newly elected City-Parish Council chairman who formed the commission after being elected to the post early this month. “It may come up — I’m pretty sure it will come up — but I don’t think it’s going to be a big discussion item Monday.”

The city and parish governments of Lafayette consolidated in 1996 following a parish-wide vote. At the time of consolidation, parish government was going broke, and many hailed the merger as a means of streamlining services and consolidating resources. However, especially in recent years, competing priorities among city and rural representatives on the City-Parish Council have called into question the efficacy of consolidation and, according to INDsider sources, many of the merger’s supporters, even among original members of the commission that drew up the city-parish charter, are having second thoughts.

Cajundome Director Greg Davis, who also serves on the commission, is expected to bring up the topic Monday, although Davis is keeping his cards close to his vest. “I don’t want to speculate as to how the discussion is going to go, whether or not the committee is going to go there. I don’t have a clue as to how this body would react to that,” Davis tells the INDsider. “I definitely do have an opinion, and I have no problem making it public. I just would not want to preempt the charter meeting; I would prefer making those opinions known in the public meeting that’s going to occur Monday.”