Apr 12, 2011 11:48 PM by Maddie Garrett
The Lafayette Charter Commission has finally set its plans in stone to have the public vote on two separate city and parish charters. Now that their work is done, and the future of Lafayette Consolidated Government rests in the hands of the people. So the big question now -- will the public vote to deconsolidate or not?
"We looked at a lot of diffeferent options, wrote a lot of different charters before we finally ended up with what was presented tonight," said Charter Commission Chair George Lewis at Tuesday's meeting.
After nine months of meetings, planning, and sometimes heated discussions, the Charter Commission made a decision to put an item on the ballot that would create two separate city and parish charters .
"You may have changed Lafayette for, you know, a generation to come. So no matter what anybody feels about it we appreciate your dedication and the time that you all have spent," said Parish President Joey Durel to the Commission.
It was a night of "thank you's" and talk of what comes next. The City-Parish Council expressed overall approval of the plan to put the two charter system to a vote.
"I think at the end of the day this is what the public demand called for. And now the people have to come out and support what has been brought forward," said Council Chair Kenneth Boudreaux (Dist. 4).
Both city and parish residents will be able to vote on the issue, and the election could be as soon as next fall. If it's approved, changes won't go into effect until 2016. But if it's voted down, plans go in the trash and it's back to business as usual.
"Any other considerations can be made from the formulation of another charter commission or just moving forward with this former consolidation," said Boudreaux.
If the people vote for the two charters, then LCG would have several years to work through the deconsolidation process. A City Mayor and City Council would need to be elected, as well as a Parish President and Parish Council. The two charters also have provisions that allow the city and parish to continue to work together to perform many of the same functions LCG currently does.
"We would have some four and a half to five years to put all these changes into place, to formulate these forms of government, get our facilities in order, a lot of the things the people feared we would have significant amount of time to get prepared to take this on in 2016," said Boudreaux.
Lewis said he'll be satisfied with either outcome, even if all of Commission's work is for not if the people vote the two charters down.
"If they know the information and have an informed basis on which to make a decision, they'll make the right decision. I'm not pushing for or against anything, I think it's up to the public," he said.
Next, the Justice Department has 60 days to approve the two city and parish charters. Then the ballots with the two charter item must be approved by the state 60 days before an election.
The Council also approved $42,000 for additional work that now has to be done for the charters, including legal fees and election costs.
To look at the two charters, go to the Charter Commission's website: http://www.lafayettela.gov/council/charter_commission.asp
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