Lafayette

Feb 2, 2011 5:56 AM by Nichole Larkey & AP

Lafayette charter group wants deadline extension

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - The Lafayette Charter Commission will ask
the City-Parish Council for another nine months to complete its
work of reviewing and making recommendations for changes to the
existing home rule charter.
Currently, the commission is facing an April 21 deadline, but
some members said Monday they were worried that that would not
allow enough time to discuss all possible governmental models. It
could be up to six weeks before the council decides whether to
grant the extension.
If the time extension is granted, the commission would not
necessarily meet each week, as it has for the past several months,
and could end it work at any time.
"There's going to be a lot of work," commission member Steve
Oats said. "Once we see what happens, we're still going to have to
have time to go to groups around the community and speak to them."
The commission has already developed two drafts one of a
proposed charter for the city of Lafayette and another for areas of
the parish outside the Lafayette city limits.
In addition, the commission is now considering a model proposed
by demographer Mike Hefner that keeps all services consolidated, as
they are now, but creates a governing body that guarantees five
members who would represent the city of Lafayette and vote on
city-only issues.
"I'm not going to speak for the whole council, but I'm not
going to vote to give you more time," said Councilman Jay Castille
at Monday's commission meeting. "I don't think you need more time.
You've come up with two charters already."
While Hefner's plan has gained momentum in recent weeks, some
have questioned aspects of it.
Commission member Bruce Conque said he had concerns about how
annexation would affect residents if the model were adopted.
"If you have five districts for the city and annex, you get
back to the same issue you have today, with citizens who are
disenfranchised. You are locked into those districts," he said.
Others said they did not see the annexation issue as a major
problem, noting that most areas that are annexed have few
residents.
"I worry that we're out-thinking ourselves into problems that
may or may not ever exist," City-Parish President Joey Durel said.
"When we annex, it's usually a few dozen people, maybe up to 100
or so. When we go to annex some of the subdivisions ... they will
sign a petition and vote knowing they have a city councilman."

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