Lafayette City-Parish Council budget hearings continued Tuesday.
The council tackled the budgets for the Lafayette Utility System and LUS Fiber. Nearly three hours was spent going page-by-page through the Utility System and LUS Communications’ budgets.
Councilman Bruce Conque said it’s a challenge to pinpoint the exact budget with talks of selling or offloading the management portion of Lafayette Utility System’s electrical division.
In addition, the council brought up the need to permanently fill the utilities director and the communications director positions. Questions came up about how much those directors should be paid. The proposed LUS budget is in the range of $240 million and roughly $40 million for LUS Fiber.
During the utilities portion, LUS officials and the council discussed updating electrical equipment and the costs associated with that.
During the hearing, both Councilman Conque and Councilman William Theriot asked Mayor-President Joel Robideaux about Bernhard Capital. Bernhard is the company interested in the electrical portion of Lafayette’s century-old, public-owned utilities system.
Robideaux says LUS Fiber is at a point in its maturity that it is positioned to continue growing. He believes Fiber needs a director who’s main focus is on the possible innovation and goal of Lafayette becoming a “SMART City.”
Jeff Stewart, Interim Director of Lafayette Utilities System said, “One thing I want to make very clear to our customers is that we are going to make the very best decisions on their behalf. We’re going to bring them the highest reliability at the lowest rates. Whatever it takes to get there, that’s what we’re going to do.”
City-Parish Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux said, “The council is trying to get this right.” Boudreaux is encouraging public participation in the budget process. “At the end of the day, every member of this council and administration wants what is best.”
On August 30, the City-Parish Council will revisit the budget as a whole and clean up any loose ends. The next fiscal year begins November 1.