Posted: Aug 14, 2012 6:22 PM by Erin Steuber
Updated: Aug 14, 2012 6:36 PM
Funding for Lafayette non-profits is once again the center of debate. One Lafayette City-Parish councilman is proposing giving non-profit money to the fire department instead. Several previous attempts to eliminate funding for non-profits have failed. The head of the Acadiana Center for the Arts says, they not only provide important cultural opportunities, they are key to the continued economic development of downtown Lafayette.
"We actually generate so much economic development in this region that by the end of each fiscal year, we turn roughly $7 for each dollar invested from the city," said Dr. Gerd Weustemann, Executive Director of ACA.
Weustemann says public safety is important, but you can't ignore the tremendous artistic culture that makes Lafayette so unique.
"This isn't an either, or decision," said Weustemann. "We can't just say, well we have to have a new fire station, so we can't do this."
Jared Bellard is the councilman spear-heading this effort. He says public safety should always be the number one priority, and if there is money available, it should be redirected to public safety.
"We're in the process of building a new fire station. In this current budget we don't have the money to fund firefighters," said Bellard in a statement to KATC. "All the non-governmental organizations are great agencies, however public safety has to come first."
City Parish President Joey Durel believes the council isn't putting public safety at risk by continuing to fund NGO's. Durel is confident the majority of the councilmen will recognize a great community is not made up of a single fire station.
"We're not really putting public safety at risk. More importantly most of the, rather all of the councilmen recognize that to be a great community, you have to be a complete community," said Durel.
Any council member can propose changes to the budget. They must have four votes to have it added, and five votes for Lafayette City-Parish President Joey Durel not to be able to veto it. Already, more than half of the LCG budget goes to public safety.