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Council will consider support for moving the statue

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Posted at 11:35 AM, Jul 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-21 21:08:55-04

During their regular meeting today, Lafayette City Council members will consider a resolution that would support the mayor's decision to try to move the Alfred Mouton statue.

The statue, which was erected in the 1920s by the local chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy, honors Alfred Mouton, a slave owner and general in the Confederate army. According to a study of confederate monuments by the Southern Poverty Law Center, there were a wave of confederate monuments erected, starting about 1900 "amid the period in which states were enacting Jim Crow laws to disenfranchise the newly freed African Americans and re-segregate society. This spike lasted well into the 1920s, a period that saw a dramatic resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan, which had been born in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War."

The resolution mentions Jean Mouton and how he donated the land for Lafayette's first courthouse - back when it was Vermilionville - but Alfred came long decades later. Jean was his grandfather, and also a slave owner.

Earlier this month, Mayor President Josh Guillory announced that he wants to move the statue to protect it from damage, and because it is an "impediment to mutual respect, redemption and reconciliation." In his statement, Guillory said he would ask the council for a resolution of support.

Also on the agenda are resolutions calling an election for December, during which citizens would be asked to decide if the dedication of two city sales taxes should be changed. If placed on the ballot by the Council, voters would be asked to increase the percentage of sales tax income that can be used in the General Fund.

The current dedications of the 1961 and 1985 taxes currently call for the income to be used to fund capital improvements including roads, bridges, drainage, recreation facilities and parks, with the remainder available for the general fund. Both had the amount available for the general fund capped at 35 percent. The rededication would increase that cap to 45 percent.

Based on last year's sales tax collections, that could increase the amount of sales tax income to the General Fund from about $30 million to nearly $39 million. In the current fiscal year budget, about $28 million of the authorized amount was used in the General Fund.

On the city council and joint councils agendas are ordinances that would suspend 2 percent raises given to LCG employees, because of the "economic downturn."

The group that demolished the Less Pay motel to make way for loft housing is asking for a tax break. The council already loaned the project $1.5 million - back in April, in the midst of the pandemic that now is being used as justification to retract raises given to city-parish workers - and now the group is asking to be exempted from parish and city sales taxes for the next five years. The tax breaks would be granted under the state's Restoration Tax Abatement program. Because it would cost the city and parish tax income, the councils must approve it. According to The Current, the move would cost a predicted $1.4 million in new tax income over the next five years - if the project generates the income that is forecast.

According to the ordinance the council passed back in April, the money used to fund the loan was taken from capital budgets. Most of that funding, $500,000 was removed from planned improvements to Heymann Park, and the rest was taken from money set aside to fund school zone flashers for Carmel Drive and two fire trucks. Heymann Park is the location of one of the four recreation centers that Mayor President Josh Guillory says he plans to close to save money.

Also on the joint councils agenda is an introductory ordinance that would lay the groundwork for the return of rental scooters to Lafayette. The ordinance excludes the city and parish from any liability related to the scooters, and sets up a permitting process for companies that want to operate that business in the parish. Several rental scooter businesses started operating in Lafayette Parish, but their operations were halted until officials could come up with an ordinance and permitting process. Generally, there is no discussion on introductory ordinances; the discussions usually happen at final adoption, which would be in two weeks.

Here are the times for the meetings:
Lafayette Parish Council Regular Meeting on July 21, 2020 (5:00pm);
Lafayette Parish Council & Lafayette City Council Joint Special Meeting on July 21, 2020 (5:30pm);
Lafayette City Council Regular Meeting on July 21, 2020 (6:00pm);
Lafayette Public Power Authority Special Meeting on July 21, 2020 (6:00pm).

You may access and print any of the agendas, which includes ordinances, resolutions and back-up materials, by going to the link below and selecting the appropriate meeting date: http://www.lafayettela.gov/council/pages/agendas-minutes.aspx [lafayettela.gov]

Follow along on our Twitter page with updates from the meeting.