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Resolution to rededicate more from library fund balance fails

Posted at 9:19 PM, May 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-21 23:39:05-04

Lafayette Parish voters will consider re-dedicating $10 million from the library’s fund balance on the October ballot.

The Lafayette City-Parish council once again rejected Mayor-President Joel Robideaux’s resolution to transfer $18 million.

Taking a look at the numbers: the library’s fund balance has an estimated $26 million. Robideaux has criticized the library for having such a large fund balance in the past, calling for the council to rededicate $18 million for roads, bridges and drainage projects.

At the last council meeting, the council approved a plan to have voters consider a $10 million re-dedication.

But in a memo to the council, Robideaux called out excessive spending on the library’s part, citing furniture costs at the new West Regional Library in Scott.

During an emergency meeting Monday night, the library board voted to commit $8 million to building a new library on the North Side and $4 million to upgrades at the Carencro branch.

This last minute budget amendment may have saved much of their funding.

With a seven to two vote, the council sided with the library in an ongoing funding dispute with city hall administration.

Now some members are hoping for a return on that vote, with a new library.

“There’s now a commitment to service a community that was underserved, that everyone is now using to justify the keeping of the funding. But that should have been done a long time ago,” said Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux who has been addressing this issue for years.

“When you look at [Boudreaux’s] map compared to ours, we’ve been using a radius map and according to the radius map there’s a library within a mile and a half of almost everybody on that side of the interstate. The interstate is what the obstacle is,” said library board president, Nora Stelly.

Stelly is referring to Councilman Boudreaux’s presentation from a few weeks ago, where he pointed out transportation barriers for people in his district.

You can read that story here.

Stelly says they’ve always seen a need for a North Side branch, but after pressure from the mayor-president bringing up the resolution once again, they felt the need to move forward now.

“It’s a victory in my opinion,” said Mayor-President Robideaux. “That they recognized that need and said ‘yes we’re going to dedicate money for that library’ because it is needed in my opinion.”

He says he’s okay with the council’s decision because there will still be money for drainage.

“$10 million in drainage is a win. That’s $10 million we weren’t going to have for roads and bridges and drainage. I feel like we have at least gotten the attention of the people who’s money were talking about. I think the library is paying attention,” he said.

The library has two millages which expire in 2022 and 2026. Their third millage failed when it was up for renewal. The library says these remaining millages are a necessity for their continued survival.

“We’re going to have to do a better job of informing the public and we’ll have to do a better job of selling and we’ll take that step when we have to take it,” said the library board president.

Amid the discussion as to how they got to this point, Councilman William Theriot proposed an ordinance for the next meeting. It would require the council to present, twice a year in public, what entities are getting millages and how much. He hopes this will avoid the issue of large, untouched fund balances in the future, something Councilman Boudreaux also agreed with.

To ensure the library’s proposal, Boudreaux proposed another resolution for the next meeting to approve the library being built.

“People need to know that that is giong to happen, people need to understand that regardless of how people vote, the money is available to do that now,” he said.