Council Preview: New budget, STR rules top lengthy meeting for Lafayette councils

Here is a selection of items on the agendas for this week’s meetings of the City and Parish councils. To see the full agendas, check out the links below:

Special Joint Meeting

Introduction

The budget. Mayor-Preisdent Josh Guillory’s administration will introduce his fourth annual budget proposal Tuesday, the first he’s had to offer in an election year, kicking off LCG’s weeks-long summer budget hearings before a final budget is passed in September. The mayor-president sets the stage by proposing the coming year’s budget each July, which the councils review and amend during public hearings over the following weeks. A few key things to watch for in Guillory’s proposed budget:

  • Raises: A major raise for LPD officers became an election talking point in 2019, and it kicked off a wave of raises for the fire department and other employees, contributing to a deficit that saw Guillory announce layoffs and funding cuts in 2020. LPD and LFD haven’t made public pushes for substantial raises so far, but anything can happen in an election year.
  • Spending: Guillory’s administration is coming off a spending boom buoyed since 2021 by LCG’s $86 million federal ARPA stimulus cache. But those funds have largely been allocated, leaving little room to add new projects without pushing the city into a deficit, which Guillory did last year for the first time in nearly a decade to little impact on the city’s cash reserves.
  • Revenue: Post-pandemic tax revenue has seen blistering growth in LCG’s collections, even outpacing the ambitious estimates included in Guillory’s previous budgets. The city-parish can’t spend any money it doesn’t have or plan to collect, so the councils and the administration will have to square its expected revenue with any extra election year spending they might have in mind.

Lafayette 101
Budget Hearings

Each summer, Lafayette’s city and parish councils hold a series of hearings on the mayor-president’s proposed budget for the next year. During those hearings, the councils ask questions and make changes to the budget before voting to adopt it, typically in September. View a schedule of this year’s budget hearings.

Parish Council

Final Adoption

Drainage plan. Guillory’s administration is asking the Parish Council to add $200,000 to its budget for a comprehensive parishwide drainage plan, which was contracted to engineering firm CSRS in 2021. The City Council budgeted $500,000 to pay for the plan last summer. As of November, CSRS had produced a first phase assessment of the parish’s drainage infrastructure and stormwater data.

Introduction

Jail money. Guillory’s administration is also asking the Parish Council to approve $45,000 in new funding for a detention facility activation planning project related to the construction of a new parish jail after the state awarded LCG $17.5 million this year to start work on replacement.

City Council

Resolutions

Middlebrook Park. The City Council will vote Tuesday on a resolution to rename Plantation Park on Kaliste Saloom Road after LPD Cpl. Michael Middlebrook, who was killed in the line of duty in October 2017. The park is adjacent to Cpl. Michael Middlebrook Elementary School, which was renamed in his memory in 2018.

Final Adoption

STRs. Two weeks of push back from short-term rental operators have not stopped the City Council from moving forward with plans to vote on a pair of competing ordinances that STR owners say will disrupt the industry within the city. One ordinance would allow STRs to operate anywhere in the city, while the other would ban them from single-family neighborhoods, where more than a third of STRs operate in Lafayette. STR owners say both could hurt their businesses because of a prohibition on renting individual rooms, and one councilman says he intends to make an allowance for owner-occupied STRs to continue renting by the room before Tuesday’s votes.

Customer service. The City Council will vote on LUS’s bid to buy the old IberiaBank building on Congress Street near Independence Boulevard for a new customer service center at a price of $1.6 million. Funding for the purchase would come from LUS and would be about $1 million below the city-owned utility’s budget for the expansion, not including the cost of potential renovations.

Introduction

SRO agreement. The City Council will consider a plan to provide 21 school resource officers from the Lafayette Police Department to the Lafayette Parish School System in exchange for just over $1 million over the coming school year.

Fire Dept. Funding. The administration is asking for an additional $300,000 for personnel costs within the Lafayette Fire Department, most of which would be budgeted for overtime pay.

Road overlay. The council will give preliminary consideration to a $350,000 request to fund urban asphalt road overlays in the city, adding to $3.3 million budgeted for such projects this year.

$4M for transit. Two ordinances (one, two) being introduced Tuesday would accept about $4 million in federal grants for Lafayette’s public transit operations, with a required combined local match of about $2.8 million.

LUS late fees. After being flagged by auditors this year for allowing LUS to suspend late fees and disconnections during last summer’s natural gas price spike, the Guillory administration is proposing an ordinance to give LUS Director Jeff Stewart power to suspend late fees and service disconnections during emergencies or special circumstances subject to several restrictions.

New City Court. Guillory’s administration is asking the City Council to approve $9.5 million to relocate Lafayette City Court in pursuit of his public-private partnership to turn the existing courthouse into a mixed-use downtown development. The move would use about $1.8 million of city bonded debt and cut another $7-plus million from other city projects, including $3 million from stormwater diversion, $1.5 million from building upgrades and $1 million from downtown streets and sidewalks.

Joint Items

Final Adoption

Selling Trappey. Both councils will vote Tuesday on a plan to sell 15.8 acres of land along the Vermilion River to the Trappey Riverfront Development group for about $2 million. The move would add to 9 acres already owned by the group at the site of the old Trappey cannery, which is planned to become a riverfront development to revitalize the long-neglected industrial area.

Community grants. The councils will also cast final votes on a trio of ordinances (one, two, three) setting LCG’s annual budget for its federal Community Development Block Grant funds, which pass federal funds through to community organizations and support programs. LCG is in line for $715,000 to address low-income housing needs and $1.6 million for other housing and community services, like job placement and nonprofit support.

Introduction

Limit two. A proposed update to Lafayette’s Development Code would limit the number of temporary yard signs allowed on lots in residential neighborhoods to just two signs totaling less than 12 square feet in combined size. The change comes as political yard signs have popped up around the city ahead of the Oct. 14 election, when multiple statewide and local offices will be on the ballot. It would impact not only campaign signs but any temporary signs in residential neighborhoods. Lots in other parts of the city will be limited to four temporary signs totaling 32 square feet in area.

Property

AddressApprovalAction
304 N Bienville St.Joint CouncilsSale of adjudicated property to adjoining land owner [Resolution]
504 Thirteenth St. & 1219 S Magnolia St.Joint CouncilsDonation of adjudicated property to non-profit Acts of Love [Intro]
904 & 908 E Vermilion St.Joint CouncilsDonation of adjudicated properties to non-profit Focus Clubhouse, Inc [Final]
206 California St. & 403 Attakapas RoadJoint CouncilsDonation of adjudicated properties to non-profit Beyond
the Bus Foundation [Final]
244 & 250 Huval St.Joint CouncilsDonation of adjudicated properties to non-profit Coco Tribe of Canneci Tinne [Final]
400 block of Ridge RoadCity CouncilRezoning from Commercial Heavy (CH) to Mixed-Use Neighborhood (MN-2) [Final]
812 West Butcher Switch RoadCity CouncilAnnexation [Final]
2 Eureka Plantation Road #ACity CouncilAnnexation [Final]
306 & 312 S Domingue Ave.City CouncilAnnexation [Final]
201-301 Devalcourt St., 101 & 105 Carl St.City CouncilRezoning from Commercial Heavy (CH) to Mixed-Use Neighborhood (MN-1) [Final]
200-218, 301 & 307 Ella St.; 110 Shirley St.; 107-207 Carl St.; 220, 301, 302 and a portion of 303 Rayburn St.City CouncilRezoning from Commercial Heavy (CH) to Residential Mixed (RM-2) [Final]
304 Ella St.City CouncilRezoning from Commercial Heavy (CH) to Residential Single-Family (RS-1) [Final]
Planned council actions related to property, such as rezonings, annexations and disposition of adjudicated properties