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Some question legality of Lafayette City Council's proposed ordinance

Posted at 7:00 PM, Aug 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-05 20:00:32-04

Tonight, questions are being raised about the legality of the City of Lafayette hoping to separate city and parish parks and recreation funds.

Some believe if the City Council moves forward, they could be violating Lafayette's Home Rule Charter.

Tuesday night, the City Council voted to move forward with the introductory ordinance. It will come up for final adoption in two weeks on August 18. Some members saying they want to continue the conversation and be "good stewards of city tax dollars."

During the special meeting, City Councilman Andy Naquin said, "Is it even legal to do this? Would it in any way violate our present charter? Are we basically overriding our charter which the people voted for?"

Naquin originally opposed to the introductory ordinance decided to support moving it forward to continue the conversation, despite his concerns.

"If we move forward with the ordinance, that might not be worth the weight of the paper it's written on could be a very futile effort," Naquin said.

Parish Councilman Josh Carlson agrees.

He believes the City Council's ordinance would violate the Home Rule Charter, calling it "defacto deconsolidation." Carlson says even if the Parish only contributes one dollar to parks and rec, the Parish Council has a say in how the money is spent.

"My concern goes beyond parks and rec. If this can be done for parks and the IT department next, drainage, roads and bridges? It's a domino effect," Carlson said.

During Tuesday's meeting, legal cited the charter and says there could be multiple violations if the city council moves forward. Their attorney saying he will issue an opinion in the coming weeks.

"We should not be funding anything for the Parish. I want my fellow council members to remember that we were elected to be good stewards of the city tax payer's dollars," said City Councilwoman Liz Hebert.

City Councilwoman Nanette Cook said, "We're moving forward with a budget for parks and rec solely funded by the mileage for the city of Lafayette which you taxpayers are paying for."

Meanwhile, Carlson said, "I believe in Josh Guillory's motto...One parish, one future. We cannot separate the city of lafayette from the parish. They go hand in hand."

The City and Parish Councils will go over the proposed 2020-2021 budget for the Parks and Rec Department Thursday at 1:00.

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