Durel threatens 2015-16 budget veto

Joey Durel (Photo: Advertiser file photo)

The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Thursday adopted a $621 million budget for 2015-16, but City-Parish President Joey Durel threatened to veto all or part of it.

The warning came as the council considered amendments that use part of the fund balance that Durel and Chief Financial Officer Lorrie Toups want to reserve. That balance, which can be used for emergencies like hurricane expenses, also is considered in calculating the city’s bond rating which generates money for building roads, Toups said.

The council is using more of the reserve “at a time when we know sales taxes are declining” and next year may be economically challenging, Durel said,. He asked the council to “help me avoid a veto” by working with the administration to eliminate some of the increased spending the council proposed.

“I will likely veto everything added to the budget” if you don’t, he said.

Durel and Toups want to keep a 15-20 percent reserve. The amendments proposed totaled between $531,000 and $637,000, cutting into the reserve by more than 4.6 percent, Toups said.

The council approved the budget with the amendments. Durel left the meeting before the final vote and was not available for comment about the veto.

Additions to the budget by councilmen included:

* $35,000 for the Jillian Johnson Community Garden and Pocket Park

* $300,000 for new sidewalks on Carmel Drive

* $300,000 for a new parking lot at Brown Park/Dupuis Center

* $55,000 for planning of a pedestrian bridge across Evangeline Thruway near the Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission Welcome Center

* $100,000 over three years for operation and maintenance for the North Lafayette Redevelopment Authority

* $300,000 for a police crime scene building in precinct 4

* 625,000 for pay raises for upper-level Lafayette Fire Department personnel, including captains, district chiefs, assistant chiefs and deputy chiefs.

* $45,000 to Festivals Acadiens et Creoles.

* $50,000 to the Acadiana Center for the Arts for maintenance

Councilmen Jared Bellard, Andy Naquin and William Theriot voted against allocating money to Festivals Acadiens et Creoles and the Acadiana Center for the Arts.

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