Tuesday afternoon, Lafayette Consolidated Government held its first round of hearings for next years budget.
City-parish president Joey Durel's proposed budget requests 80 positions be eliminated from various departments, but no one's getting laid off.
Of those 80, 9 unfilled vacancies at the Lafayette fire department amongst other things most likely will result in the downgrade of Lafayette's fire rating.
“This is a good budget moving forward for next fiscal year, however that may not save your fire rating,” explains Fire Chief, Robert Benoit.
Benoit is now facing what he's braced for the past few years, a decrease in man power and a downgrade in the city's fire rating.
“There is no less, we're at the bare minimum now,” says Benoit.
The department didn't qualify for a federal grant losing funds that would have paid for 100% of all personnel for two years. Funding was also cut for the building of a second new fire station, but these cuts were made by Benoit and his staff.
“Even though we're in a rating year we decided that allowing us to cut ourselves we can cut in areas where it doesn't cripple the organization,” says Benoit.
The department also had to eliminate 9 vacant positions. Within the next year or so is when Benoit will find out if the city's rating does drop from a 2 to a 3, because they can not keep up with the population.
“We're gonna respond in a timely fashion,” assures Benoit, “but when we get there we may be a whole lot slower in being able to extinguish that fire, do a rescue, and protect exposures.”
Recently Lafayette tax payers were given the option to create a new source of revenue for both the fire and police departments in the form of a public safety tax, but they said no.
“When we say no to that we're saying yes to a little bit of higher insurance rates,” says City-parish president, Joey Durel.
And that's what the trade off will be, higher insurance payments because of the possible rating decrease.
“Maybe its worth spending a little more in insurance, and avoiding potentially a new tax,” says Durel.
Tuesday, the police and public works went through their proposed budgets.
To see schedule for the remaining five meetings click the link below.