A special joint meeting between the Lafayette City-Parish Council and the Lafayette Public Utilities Authority was held Thursday evening to present the budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year. Chief Financial Officer Lorrie Toups proposed a $4 million increase to general accounts meaning pay increases for some employees in the Hub City. “We are proposing a two percent increase for all other employees of the consolidated government. That would be your civil service employees, just the general staff of the consolidated government and the cost of that to the general funds is about $300,000,” said Toups.
Toups said one of the biggest and newest additions to the budget is the fire-police pay plan. “There will be two public safety pay plans. One for the Lafayette Fire Department and one for the Lafayette Police Department. It increases the starting pay for the firemen and policemen to be the fourth highest in the state,” said Toups. If approved as is, the fire department will see an increased starting pay at a rate of $2,500 a month and a starting pay for police officers would increase to $2,850 a month. According to Toups, the total amount of the pay plan adds a little over $2 million to the budget.
“The cost of the pay plan for the firemen is almost $1.5 million and the cost of the pay plan for policemen is a little under $800,000,” said Toups. City-Parish President Joey Durel said, getting this pay plan in the budget is a big achievement for his administration. “We have achieved in this a budget a goal I have had since I’ve been in office and I believe our fire and police department should be the fourth highest paid in the state compared to other major cities in the state,” said Durel. Lafayette Fire Chief Robert Benoit said he’s very pleased with what was presented at the meeting. “It’s been overdue for a long time and looking at the presentation of the budget made me feel real good. I think we got something positive,” said Benoit. Toups said it could be weeks and many more meetings before a budget is approved.