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Lafayette City Council holds budget review for LUS, Fiber

Posted at 12:22 PM, Jul 30, 2020

LAFAYETTE, La. — The Lafayette City Council held a review of the 2020-2021 proposed budget on Thursday regarding city funds used for the Lafayette Utilities System, LUS Fiber, their capital projects and the Lafayette Public Power Authority.

During the LUS portion of the review, LUS Interim Director Lowell Duhon was asked about the forensic audit of LUS. Duhon said that an update on the audit is coming soon and will be discussed at the next council meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 4.

LUS has also budgeted a part of its customer service division to be moved under LUS Fiber to help make it whole.

During the LUS Fiber portion of the review, LCG Chief Financial Officer Lorrie Toups said that the LUS Fiber total budget had increased from last year by 7.7%. LUS Fiber's employee strength had also increased 10 positions from last year, for a total of 89 positions of employee strength.

LUS Fiber is also making 100% of its debt payments and still has money left over for future payments and investments.

City Councilman Glen Lazard also asked Toups about the differential in earned interest from last year to this year.

Toups said that the COVID-19 pandemic has hurt interest earnings quite a bit, but that anyone entering the bond market will benefit from lower interest rates.

Lazard also brought up 311, LCG's recent call center system, and the fact that it the budget calls for the parishwide 311 system, currently under the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer, to be moved to the LUS Fiber division, which is owned by the city.

Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory said that the move is for more efficiency and better leadership.

LUS Fiber Interim Director Kayla Miles pointed out that 311 is growing and its purpose is to provide services to citizens so that they don't have to dial multiple different numbers to reach a certain government service.

Toups said that the city pays 84% for the parishwide call center while the parish pays 16%.

Councilwoman Liz Hebert asked about this and Toups responded that city residents can call 311 for services like police, fire, water, electricity, maintenance and others. However, parish residents cannot use 311 to call for police and fire because that would be a different number to call.

Hebert proposed introducing an amendment to the council at their next meeting to move 311 from LUS Fiber back under under the administration of the CAO office where it had been before.

Councilman Andy Naquin stated his opposition to this amendment.

During the LPPA portion of the budget review, coal power production at the Rodemacher Power Station Unit 2 was discussed and that the plant will have to lower its production next year due to scheduled maintenance.

You can watch the full budget review from Thursday morning below.

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