Tonight may be the last council meeting of this year - and this term, and this "consolidated" council - but there are items on the agenda that could have long-term effects on Lafayette.
The council is slated to give final approval to several new taxing districts proposed by outgoing Mayor President Joel Robideaux.
Incoming Mayor-President Josh Guillory has issued a statement saying he's opposed to the action, and asking the council to leave that decision to the incoming council members.
You can read his full statement at the bottom of this story. If you want to read the details about the districts, and the companies to which Robideaux wants to give authority over them, click here.
Also on the agenda today is the final "report" from Robideaux on the "investigation" his administration launched into the Lafayette Utilities System. He originally had claimed the state Public Service Commission had requested the action, but that has proved to be untrue. It is unclear why Robideaux would need to investigate actions taken by his own employees in a department he oversees. To read about the history on this issue, click here.
In other business, the council will be considering two actions that might ease tensions between city-parish government and the sheriff's office. Sheriff Mark Garber, after his compromise deal was rejected during budget hearings, filed suit to force the city-parish to pay what he maintains is its legal responsibility. The funding he's seeking is for various expenses associated with the parish jail. To read about that, click here and here.
On the agenda is an item that would transfer money from the parish juvenile jail budget to fund a program Garber suspended earlier this year, also for juvenile offenders. Garber has suspended that program, and others, because he says his budget won't allow them to continue. He also has laid off employees To read about that, click here.
The council also will consider giving Robideaux permission to negotiate a new intergovernmental agreement with Garber to house city prisoners. It would pay Garber $1.25 million next year, in quarterly installments, and must be used on capital expenditures.
The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. in the council chamber room of City Hall on University Avenue.
Here's Guillory's complete statement on the taxing districts.
I am opposed to passage of the proposed new taxing districts being considered during the last meeting of the Lafayette City-Parish Council. I believe these matters are important enough that they should be held over until the new City and Parish Councils can give them thorough consideration and receive greater public input. This isn’t something we should rush through at the last minute without proper study and analysis. I believe the new Councils, freshly elected by our people, will be well equipped to give these proposals careful and thoughtful consideration.
I am concerned that these proposed new taxing districts send the wrong message to our people and to those who would come here to shop, stay and do business. While I understand the theory behind these districts, I want our City and our Parish to be known as business friendly, low tax jurisdictions that are more inviting to visitors who want to stay here and shop here. These taxing districts do the opposite.
These districts are specifically designed to be passed without a vote of our people, and I think that’s not a precedent we want to encourage. In our system of government, proposed tax increases are typically placed in front of voters for approval or disapproval. That’s the way it should be. Trying to circumvent that legal requirement by crafting districts that don’t contain any registered voters is not something I believe we should be doing.
I thank Mayor-President Joel Robideaux for his support and assistance during this transition period. I truly appreciate his support and encouragement. We agree on many things. We just have an honest disagreement on this specific issue. I also thank our current City-Parish Council members for their service, hard work and for their willingness to consider my concerns and opposition to these proposed ordinances.
I look forward to working with all of our local stakeholders to find innovative, business and taxpayer-friendly ways to grow and expand our local economy after our newly elected team takes office in January.
KATC'S Jordan Lippincott is at tonight's LCG meeting and will be live at 10 p.m. with the latest details.