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On December 8th, Lafayette Parish voters will decide whether or not to amend the Lafayette Parish Home Rule Charter for the first time since it was adopted in 1992, creating dedicated councils for the City of Lafayette and the Parish of Lafayette.
Discover Lafayette’s host, Jan Swift, visited with Fix The Charter volunteer, Will Kellner, about the scope of the initiative and what it means for the autonomy of Lafayette in the face of changing demographics in the cities comprising the Parish of Lafayette. This is a highly informational interview you must listen to if you are unable to attend the town hall meetings explaining the changes being proposed.
Fix the Charter is a diverse and non-partisan group of volunteers composed of Democrats and Republicans, young and “seasoned,” who care about the future of the City of Lafayette’s autonomy to govern itself, as well as the ability of the Parish to address its pressing issues which become greater every year that unincorporated land is annexed by surrounding towns.
Background: The current governing authority of LCG is the Lafayette City-Parish Council, consisting of nine members elected from nine single-member districts in the parish. The LCG chief executive is the Mayor-President. LCG’s governance structure is by the Home Rule Charter which, in its current form, was voted on by the citizenry in 1992.
In 1996, when the Lafayette City-Parish government consolidation took effect, each of the other towns in the parish maintained their own Mayor, City Councils, and government structure, but Lafayette was folded into the “City-Parish Council” without a separate governing body. Lafayette residents comprised about 60% of the Parish’s residents and it was thought that Lafayette’s elected Council members would maintain a majority vote on the issues affecting the city of Lafayette, such as the Lafayette Utilities System and the Lafayette City Police Department.
Today, nearly half of the Lafayette City-Parish Council members represent people who live outside the City of Lafayette. As Broussard, Youngsville, Carencro, Scott, and Duson grow, it is very likely that a majority vote on the Council of non-Lafayette resident elected officials will be able to determine issues such as LUS utility rates and how to spend taxpayer dollars on City of Lafayette initiatives.
What would the Home Rule Charter Amendment do:
- Replace the nine-person city-parish council with a five-person City of Lafayette Council and a five-person Parish of Lafayette Council.
- Replace the Lafayette Public Utilities Authority which oversees the Lafayette Utility System with the five-person Council representing the City of Lafayette.
- Require a vote of City of Lafayette residents before LUS could be sold, leased, or managed by a third party.
- Retain the Mayor-President position currently in place.
- Retain the existing system of budgets, finances, and taxes.
- Prohibit the four current city-parish council members who are term-limited (Jared Bellard, Kenneth Boudreaux, Jay Castille and William Theriot) from running for a new seat on the city or parish councils.
- The remaining five City-Parish Council members would be allowed to run for either City or Parish Council seats but they would be limited to the time they would have left to serve on the current City-Parish Council (total of 12 years in elected office). (Thanks to Claire Taylor of the Advertiser for this synopsis.)
The Ordinance passed by the City-Parish Council setting forth the scope of the proposed amendments may be read here. To read an index of how the proposed Charter amendments work, please visit Lafayette Consolidated Government’s website here.
For more information, please visit https://fixthecharter.com.