Mayor Joel Robideaux today acknowledged any "selling" of the Lafayette Utilities System, must be approved by the LPUA – in a Facebook post.
Several council members have said they’ve never heard a word from Robideaux on this. Liz Webb Hebert, chair of the Lafayette Public Utilities Authority, the five-member board, made up of City-Parish Council members who represent the city, has asked Robideaux to appear at next week’s meeting to explain what is going on.
In his post today, Robideaux acknowledged that he can’t just "sell" LUS to anyone; at least not without approval of the LPUA.
Robideaux told reporters yesterday, any sale or management agreement with another company would have to go to LPUA, then to the City-Parish Council for approval, but would not need to go to voters if another company were to manage LUS. There’s an entire section of the Lafayette City-Parish Charter that deals with the subject. You can read the entire charter for yourself by clicking here. But, here’s the entire text of that section:
A. The Lafayette Public Utilities Authority shall not sell, lease or in any manner dispose of the utility system or any substantial part thereof without approval by a majority vote of the qualified electors residing within the boundaries of the City of Lafayette voting in an election called for that purpose. This shall not be construed to prevent the disposal, with the approval of the consulting engineers, of property which has become obsolete, unserviceable and not necessary for the efficient operation of the utility system. The proceeds of the sale of such property shall be used to purchase or construct other capital improvements for the utility system.
B. In the event of the sale or lease of the public utility, the proceeds shall be used for capital improvements in the City of Lafayette.
Here’s the entire text of his Facebook post:
UPDATE: EVALUATING OUR OPTIONS FOR LUS.
As we continue to experience the Summer heat, I am grateful that our publicly-owned utility, LUS provides us with the safest, most reliable and least expensive electricity in the state.
LUS is an important asset that has been a major driver of growth in our community for over a century. Reliable, inexpensive electricity is important to attracting business and investment. As we position our community for the challenges of the next century, we have some significant decisions to make.
Our assets are approaching 40 years old, which is nearing the end of their useful life. There are needed infrastructure upgrades and overdue maintenance. Our generating capacity is in need of expansion and modernization. There are significant financial requirements that will have to be addressed in a timely fashion to keep our utility functioning properly. We are faced with the possibility of having to borrow $200 million or more to address these issues. Repayment of that debt would require restructuring of rates.
I believe the voters of Lafayette Parish elected me with a mandate to do more with less and to provide the best services we can without raising taxes. As a CPA, I process all of the information available to determine what our best options are. Once we know the specific details of our utility infrastructure, we can engage publicly about how best to address the matter. As always, I’m committed to doing what is best for the people of Lafayette Parish.
As we go through the process of finding a suitable candidate to succeed our long-time director Terry Huval, I pledge to continue engaging in conversations with a variety of experts in the field to ensure we have all the information and perspective we need to assess where we are, evaluate our options and make an informed decision.
Any action on the future of LUS requires the consideration and approval of the Lafayette Public Utility Authority (LPUA) and will certainly involve significant public discussion. I am looking forward to having those discussions and making the right choice for our future, together.