During his first Town Hall, Mayor-President Josh Guillory said he feels that some programs in the Parks and Rec and Community Development departments need to be privately funded.
Guillory fielded questions from people in person and from folks who had sent in questions via email and social media. The town hall lasted about two hours, and was livestreamed on the LCG Facebook page as well.
The response regarding city programs for kids came to a question from a Youngsville grandmother, who was pleading for some version of Camp Can Do for the parish's disabled children. They're suffering because their schools were closed, and they look forward to camp all year, Amanda Barker said.
In response, Guillory implied that the camp might never return as a tax-dollar supported activity. He said the pandemic is causing drops in tax dollars. And, he said, there may be federal and state money that might allow the city to rehire some of the 100 employees that were "let go."
"The essential functions of government will always prevail," he said. "What I would do in response to this call to action is, let's have a call to action to all of our public, we have to do something different. Programs such as this program, and other programs within Community Development and Parks and Rec, are very valuable. They increase our quality of life to our community. What's not increased is tax revenue. So we have to do things we haven't done in the past... public-private partnerships, building associations, building foundations."
Guillory said his challenge to himself, his directors and the public is: "How can we find ways to find the funding on the private side to fund programs like this?"
He also implied that the programs might not be coming back any time soon: "it will not be overnight, it may not be this year," he said, as to when private-public partnerships are established to allow the programs to continue.
In response to a question about LUS, Guillory said a fiscal audit is ongoing. He said there also are possible "criminal violations" that he will "let prosecutorial officials" make any decisions on that. He said that the District Attorney's office is working on the investigation now. We've reached out to DA Keith Stutes to verify and ask for a status.
Guillory also addressed questions about flooding, the independent tax districts and traffic jams outside a fried chicken fast food place on Ambassador, notorious for causing traffic jams when people waiting in the drive through park on the Parkway, despite signs telling them not to do it.
Regarding a question about street flooding, Guillory said he is learning a lot about the way engineering concepts that are used to address flooding - like using roads as temporary catch basins to keep water out of homes and businesses. So when roads are full of water after a rainfall - but there's no water in nearby buildings - the system is working.
"It's probably not the most optimal way, but it is part of the equation," he said.
Guillory also said that water doesn't recognize political and geographical boundaries, so all effective drainage plans must have a regional aspect to them. In other words, Lafayette needs to participate in the regional watershed plans to have effective drainage, he said.
On the fast-food restaurant, Interim Police Chief Scott Morgan said that some tickets were written initially, but then it was determined that it "may not be Constitutional to give them citations when they were just waiting in line."
We've reached out to the Police Department to see what case or law he's referring to.
Guillory also addressed questions about economic aid available for local businesses; he said that you can get more detailed information by calling 311, but he did encourage all business owners to apply for the aid that's available.
"When in doubt, apply," he said.
On a related matter, Guillory said work is underway to replace the Unified Development Code. There's a committee set up, and the planning commission is assisting as well, he said. He encouraged business owners and members of the public to attend the meetings and get involved in the discussion.
"I would like to see more engagement from our people," he said.
Here's the full town hall so you can listen for yourself: