What would you do about Lafayette Parish finances?

LAFAYETTE, La. (The Daily Advertiser) – Think you know where Lafayette Parish can save money? What should be cut? How can more money be generated?

Officials are asking for your input at a 5:30 p.m. meeting Thursday in City Hall, 705 W. University Ave.

A Lafayette Consolidated Government funding evaluations committee has been meeting since Jan. 27 reviewing parish property taxes and revenue shortfalls. The committee met with Mayor-President Joel Robideaux and LCG department heads as well as municipalities in the parish, taxing bodies and stakeholders.

Now it’s time for input from residents.

“Citizens are strongly urged to come prepared to share recommendations/suggestions on bolstering parish revenues (not city of Lafayette) needed to address services related to roads and bridges, drainage, fire protection, recreation and parks, and parish facilities now and in the future,” a news release from LCG states.

The parish side of LCG is going broke. Property taxes don’t bring in enough money to cover expenses to run parish operations like drainage maintenance, roads and bridges, and the courthouse.

Some services are mandated by state law, so Lafayette Parish has to provide them, regardless of whether property taxes cover those costs.

To make up for the property tax shortfall, officials turn to the parish general fund, which gets its money from sales taxes collected only in unincorporated parts of the parish, and other fees. But sales tax collections also are shrinking because of annexations and the down economy.

The general fund’s projected fund balance this year is about $61,000. The projected parish general fund shortfall for 2017-18 is more than $3 million.

In the past, shortfalls were covered by fund balances (savings), but those have been depleted, too.

In the current fiscal year, Nov. 1, 2016, through Oct. 31, 2017, the parish budget was cut 20 percent or nearly $4 million.

As administrators prepare the 2017-18 parish budget, they may need to cut another $3 million.

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