Council to address deconsolidation Tuesday

by Walter Pierce

If approved - and it probably will not be - the ordinance would let parish voters decide in November whether to repeal the charter and abolish Lafayette City-Parish Government.

In all likelihood, an ordinance putting a repeal of the Lafayette City-Parish Home Rule Charter before voters in November will be tabled or deferred this evening by the Lafayette City-Parish Council; several council members have expressed concern that the process is moving too fast, a sentiment shared by City-Parish President Joey Durel and the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce. But vote on deconsolidation they must - three resolutions pertaining to the topic are the first action items on the agenda; the ordinance itself proposing the repeal of the charter is the first up for final adoption. By 6:30 p.m. today, Lafayette Parish should have a pretty good idea what, if anything, will be on the Nov. 2 ballot related to deconsolidation.

The council is covering its bases with Tuesday's legislation: If the ordinance that would send deconsolidation to the voters in November is shot down or tabled, a second ordinance will be voted on that would let the parish decide in November on whether to amend the existing city-parish charter to give the council more time to redistrict the parish following the receipt of census numbers some time around next March.

Currently, the city-parish charter requires districts be redrawn at least six months before a council election. The City-Parish Council election is set for October 2011 - seven months after the likely receipt of census numbers. A redistricting plan that grows out of the census will need to be vetted by the state Bond Commission as well as the U.S. Department of Justice - a process that could take several weeks. Consequently, it's likely the council would be unable to meet the "six months prior" requirement in the charter. The second, fall-back ordinance before the council Tuesday removes that six-month prescription. In fact, it was this dilemma that prompted council Chair Jay Castille to convene the charter committee that on Feb. 1 voted to send the deconsolidation ordinance to the council and, ultimately, to parish voters.

Tuesday's council meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. in the council auditorium. To view a pdf of the agenda and related documents, click here.