Feb 5, 2014 7:43 PM by Akeam Ashford
Today, Lafayette city-parish President Joey Durel identified his vision for the future of the city.
In his speech, Durel touts a vibrant economy and robust infrastructure as some of the reasons Lafayette was recently voted the number one overall city in America, however, Durel says it's going to take some work to maintain that status.
"We are in an area and at a time in our lives where we have so much to do and so many opportunities and we can either sit back and not do anything, or we can push forward. I think that's the job of this position, to push the parish forward," Durel said.
Among his ideas, Durel highlights the need to expand Lafayette Regional Airport. Durel's proposing citizens pay a one-cent sales tax to generate one-third of the money needed to fund an expansion. The rest coming from the airport. He's calling it "One-penny One-year One-project".
"If we're going to attract business to our area, then we need an airport than can handle the expansion we're trying to achieve. It's important for the economic vitality of our community," Durel said.
Durel would also like voters to re-decide how to spend their existing tax dollars.
He says the parish public health unit and mosquito control millages have produced more money than they've needed in the past. In his proposal, Durel would like the parish animal control program to get some of that money instead.
"The government is very inefficient and it is very inefficient because we don't trust government. Every tax is always dedicated to something very specific, but if we can combine those taxes and give us some flexibility on where we can spend those taxes, then you've given us the ability to really run government like a business," Durel said.
In his speech, Durel highlighted the importance of creating a community people are proud to call home. Durel would like to see the section of Camellia Boulevard, from Johnston Street to the river filled with art.
Durel says he's working with the Acadiana Center for the Arts to create a program that would allow artists and residents the opportunity to express themselves throughout the city. Options include sculptures or monuments.
Another idea, to mimic what other cities are doing with the ugly utility boxes. According to executive Director of ACA Gerd Wuestemann, they're hoping to you grant money to make this happen.
"Quality of life is often a driving factor for people to relocate, and for companies to relocate their business here. So if we can provide quality of life in everything from hospitals, to good schools, to good roadways, to parks and recreation, to arts and culture, then I think you build a great community that becomes economically successful as well," Wuestemann said.
According to Wuestemann, local high school students will take on the first project.
Lastly, Durel says he believes government can work more efficiently by giving the citizens the ability to vote independently on how they are governed. "If we do things to better Lafayette, Acadiana will benefit as a whole," Durel said.