The Lafayette City and Parish Councils voted Tuesday to restore more than $22 million the city will receive in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to seven projects.
Last month, the councils decided to hire a consultant to best determine how to spend the more than $85 million coming to the area. The move came after pushback from council members and the public, many of whom feared having to pay the money back if misused.
The ARPA funds are primarily meant to alleviate COVID-19 related crises in communities, but Guillory's proposal focused on four things: competitive investments, drainage, roads and bridges, and public safety.
During the August 17 meeting, the councils discussed at length ARPA compliance, proposed projects, community need, timeline, joint ordinances vs. ordinances by each council, and parish projects within the city.
Mayor-President Josh Guillory returned the joint ordinance, JO-049-2021, on August 26 with 7 line items vetoed. Those items represent 7 projects within the city, 6 of which are in the downtown area.
- Downtown Drainage, $12,500,000
- Citywide Drainage, $5,210,768
- Downtown Lighting Improvements, $2,500,000
- ADA Improvements, $1,000,000
- Downtown Sidewalk Infrastructure – ADA Improvements – Phase II, $500,000
- Downtown Bollards at Key Intersections, $250,000
- Downtown Lafayette Police Precinct, $50,000
The council has until 2024 to decide how to spend the money and until 2026 to actually spend it. Final guidelines from the federal government on how the funding can be spent are expected in September (the advocate).
Some council members wondered why Guillory and other council members were in a rush to approve the 7 projects. The city has only received about $13 million so far, councilwoman Nanette Cook said.
According to our media partners at The Advocate, even though Tuesday's vote was for city projects funded by city money, the parish council was able to vote on the 7 projects Tuesday because Guillory presented the original budget in a joint ordinance, even though the money was awarded separately to the city and parish. The city's total is about $38 million, meaning the 7 projects will claim more than half of the city's total ARPA funds. The parish's total is around $47 million.
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