Posted: Sep 13, 2012 10:33 PM by Maddie Garrett
Updated: Sep 14, 2012 3:57 PM
There were some cuts, some confusion and a few changes, but Lafayette City-Parish Government managed to pass a $581 million budget for next year. The council eliminated 84 city-parish jobs from the budget. However, those positions were vacant so no employees had to be laid off. Also, funding for non-profit arts programs were spared a nearly one million dollar cut. Still -- not everyone walked away from the table happy on this one.
It's another tight year, the council will still dip into its reserve general funds to pay for some projects, such as environmental quality services.
"My goal this year was not to take any money out of the general fund, in fact build up our general fund, that has a big effect," said City-Parish President Joey Durel.
The Police and Fire Departments are also working with slimmer budgets. The Police Department cut 16 positions, currently vacant under a hiring freeze. And nine firefighter positions won't be filled. Fire Chief Robert Benoit said they can live with the cuts, but it comes at a price.
"But it's not a budget that's going to save your rating, it's not a budget that's going to give us the personnel we need to be able to do the job that we know we can do," he said after the meeting.
Benoit said they will eventually have to fill those nine firefighter positions in the future and add an additional 15 firefighters to staff the new Fire Station #14, which will be built in the next year and a half.
The budget proceedings didn't come without a little back tracking. When it came to voting on city versus parish allocation requirements, the council initially voted down the amendment, and by doing so, would have unfairly charged the parish side of government more than the city.
"As soon as they voted I was actually kind of stunned, and so I went to them and I said do you realize what you just voted for. You just voted for what I sent down in the original budget which in my opinion was not accurate," said Durel. "Which was an inaccurate allocation and much more harmful to the parish side of government."
In the end, the council re-voted on the issue and approved the final allocation plan created by allocation company MGT.
The council also approved an amendment that cut $50,000 from cajun dome funding and moved it to pay for grass cutting along I-10. That still leaves the Cajun Dome with $500,000 in its budget from LCG.
Durel has 10 days to veto any part of the final budget and it will go into effect on November 1, 2012.