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Lafayette Councils restore partial funds for Science Museum, Heymann Center staff

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Posted at 3:32 PM, Sep 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-04 13:15:15-04

LAFAYETTE, La. — The Lafayette City and Parish Councils met Thursday to review the proposed 2020-2021 budget and hold a wrap up discussion ahead of the final adoption of the budget at a Joint Council meeting on Sept. 17.

Much of the wrap up discussion focused on providing enough funding for the Heymann Performing Arts Center and Lafayette Science Museum for them to operate with the minimum amount of crew needed for both facilities to run.

The council also discussed the recent layoffs in the Parks and Recreation Department and how some staff could be retained and remain on payroll for Nov. 1 when the next budget year takes effect.

Councilman Glenn Lazard, who was absent for the meeting for health reasons, had proposed taking $3.5 million from the City General Fund to restore the previous cuts announced by Mayor-President Josh Guillory that closed four recreation centers on the Northside and laid off 37 employees.

However, Councilman Kevin Naquin offered a separate amendment to increase the funding for the Parks and Recreation Department by $375,000 from the City General Fund to go toward full-time salaries for some staff at the recreation centers.

Councilwoman Liz Hebert said she didn't think it was fair to hire back the 37 laid off Parks & Recreation employees and not consider the other 101 employees that were laid off earlier this year.

Guillory cited financial shortfalls in the current fiscal year for those cuts.

LCG Chief Financial Officer Lorrie Toups said that the proposed budget had been crafted in April before the pandemic hit and the economic downturn that followed it.

Toups said that LCG had seen extra sales tax revenue come in since last month. She said that every city millage in the proposed budget had been reduced and that the city fund had also been reduced to offset the millage reductions.

The council also discussed using $300,000 in CREATE funds to hire staff at the Lafayette Science Museum and the Heymann Center. These positions include two curators for the museum and a contractual development director.

The council said that $60,000 would go to create the contractual development director position that would work for both the museum and center to help the facilities raise money and market themselves to become self-sustaining.

Councilwoman Nanette Cook proposed an amendment to add $130,000 from the City General Fund, for a total of $230,000, for staff at the Heymann Center including a full-time maintenance foreman position, box office coordinator and some temporary employees to work when productions resume at the center.

Another amendment was offered to restore six months worth of funding for the Acadiana Nature Station.

An amendment that would remove city street lights from the city general fund and place them under the Lafayette Utilities System was pulled so that it could be further examined to determine if it is legal to do so.

The council also offered an amendment to their travel and meeting accounts totaling $10,100.

The Lafayette City Marshal's Office also made a request to the council to replace two of its police vehicles that total $105,300.

Cook made an amendment to restore funding for the Parks and Recreation Department's Tennis Program.

The Lafayette 2020-2021 budget will come up for a vote for final adoption during a special Joint Council Meeting on Thursday, Sept. 17, at 5:30 p.m. at Lafayette City-Parish Hall located at 705 W. University Ave., in Downtown Lafayette.

The budget review wrap up discussion can be viewed below:

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