LAFAYETTE, La .(The Daily Advertiser) – Lafayette Parish residents who have ideas for generating new revenue or making cuts to the parish budget, now’s your chance to speak up.
After two existing property taxes, for the parish courthouse and jail, weren’t renewed by voters in April, social media lit up with comments about how government needs to live within its means, how there’s always more cuts that can be made, how there’s lots of money if it’s spent properly.
At 5:30 p.m. June 29, those people and anyone else with ideas are invited to the council meeting room at City Hall, 705 W. University Ave., to offer their input, ask questions about parish spending and hear about the worsening financial situation.
The event was announced Thursday at a meeting of the City-Parish Council’s funding evaluations and finance liaison committee meeting.
By law, Lafayette Consolidated Government has separate budgets and accounting for the city and the parish. Funds cannot be co-mingled. City money can’t be spent in the parish and vice versa.
The city is doing OK financially. The parish is not. Because of declining tax revenue, the parish budget was cut by $3.9 million last year and had only a $60,000 reserve for emergencies.
In preparing the 2017-18 budget, Mayor-President Joel Robideaux said at best the parish budget will be standalone. There is no fund balance, he said.
If all goes as planned, Robideaux expects to place the two parishwide renewals on the Nov. 18 ballot.
Robideaux also is exploring the possibility of asking voters at that time to re-dedicate to drainage an existing tax that generates excess revenue.
In August, hundreds of homes in Acadiana, including Lafayette Parish, flooded when the area received 20-30 inches of rain within 48 hours. Nearly a year later, residents are concerned that little has been done to improve drainage.
Officials say there’s not enough money in the parish budget to take on major drainage projects.
The 2016-17 parish budget included only $936,00 for drainage maintenance, Councilman Jay Castille said. There is a $2 million deficit going into the new budget year, leaving no money for new drainage projects.