Lafayette Parish voters will decide next Saturday if the city-parish council will be split into two separate bodies.
If approved, the amendment would split not only the council but also the planning and zoning commission into separate city and parish boards. The Lafayette Public Utilities Authority would be abolished with its functions transferred to the city council.
Supporters of the Home Rule Charter amendment say it would give Lafayette something they say the other cities in the Parish have.
“We think this restores fair representation to the residents of Lafayette and solves the parish problems that give them a council that can focus on some of the pressing needs that the parish has,” said Will Kellner with Fix the Charter.
If the amendment passes, the separate city council and parish council would have five members each. Lafayette City-Parish Councilman Jared Bellard is concerned a split council would cost more money in the long run. He says the amendment is not a solution for the Parish’s budget issues.
“With a five-member council, three people could control the funds of the city of Lafayette,” said Bellard. “That’s three people for over a $480-million budget. I think that this does not give the city its autonomy because you’ll have the mayor representing both the city and the parish.”
Although most of his district is in the unincorporated area, Bellard lives in the city of Lafayette. He says he votes on what’s best for both the city and the parish.
Bellard said, “The other side has said publicly this is not a fix; it is a step in the right direction. Let’s not step in the right direction; let’s fix it. If you want to fix it, fix it right. Don’t go into something that you think is broke and just put a Band-Aid on it. I think that’s wrong.”
Still, supporters of the amendment say splitting the council would be a first step in the right direction for the city and the parish.
Kellner said, “This is the option we have right now. This is what we have to decide as a community. Are we going to take this step, or do nothing and stay in a system that is broken?”
Early voting for the December 8 election continues through Saturday at the Registrar of Voters Office.