LAFAYETTE, La (KLFY) — The Lafayette Consolidated Government has a new budget for the upcoming year full of compromises, cuts, and concessions.
Over 40 amendments were discussed by the city and parish councils before receiving granting their final seal of approval.
Before the city and parish council dove into the budget debate, Mayor-President Josh Guillory suggested the final amendment to the budget.
He suggested adding $1M to the budget for police training. The addition was one asked for by Parish Councilman AB Rubin following the death of Trayford Pellerin. Each cent will be reimbursed with federal dollar according to Guillory.
He said, “Not only is it cost-effective, but it’s very much needed for situational awareness training, de-escalation, and other training that would help our community.”
LCG’s budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year continued much of the narrative to reduce spending and prioritize essential services, but while positions were eliminated, others were reinstated.
Amendments from the city council, Parks and Recreation Department, and Community Development restored hundreds of thousands of dollars in funds to the Science Museum, Recreation Centers, and personnel.
Many of Councilman Glenn Lazard additions were new to the meeting. Under his amendments, proposed raises within the mayor-president’s office were rescinded, over a million dollars were moved from the general fund to Parks and Rec.
He even tried to reverse some modernizing cuts replacing the city nurse position with telehealth machines saying, “This position has proven to be very useful throughout the years. It’s basically paid for itself 20 times over.”
Chief Financial Officer Lorrie Toups refuted his statement. She said replacing the position with telemedicine would save $20K a year, and a parish counter vote stopped the amendment.
Parish District 3 Councilman Josh Carlson said just because something has always been one way doesn’t mean it shouldn’t change. “I think we’ve seen technology radically transform almost every industry, and I think this is just another area that makes us more efficient,” he said.
Councilwoman Liz Hebert suggested eliminating all last-minute additions in the next budget year. She said it led to rushed decisions, “Because none of us have time to look into the issue. We’re just sort of voting without the proper information.”
The City Council’s legal counsel Lea Anne Batson was in attendance. She was hired after the city council passed an override to Guillory’s veto.
The new budget goes into effect on November 1st and lasts until October 31, 2021.