By Marsha Sills
July 31, 2012
LAFAYETTE — A new three-person committee of the Lafayette City-Parish Council likely will not begin reviewing the city-parish charter and other governmental issues until September, the council chairman said Monday.
Jared Bellard announced the creation of a council liaison charter committee Monday, about a week after some council members pushed for a committee to re-examine possible amendments to the existing charter that created a consolidated government in 1996.
“The intent of this is apparently a lot of people have ideas that the charter needs to be amended; if so, let’s get them on paper and see where it goes from there,” Bellard said.
The committee includes Bellard and council members Andy Naquin and Kenneth Boudreaux.
Topics for the charter committee are “wide open,” Bellard said.
“In speaking with Mr. Boudreaux, he has stated that deconsolidation is off the table. The public has voted on that,” Bellard said. “We’ll probably discuss numerous changes.”
A committee meeting likely will not be scheduled until after Sept. 6, when the council concludes its budget meetings, he said.
During last week’s council meeting, some members urged the formation of a committee to consider potential charter changes, however, Bellard said he wanted more time to consider the request.
In 2010, a charter commission began a nine-month review of city-parish government and in April made only one recommendation, splitting city and parish government, which voters rejected in October.
That proposal would have replaced the nine-member City-Parish Council with two separate councils: a seven-member council for the parish and a seven-member council for the city.
The city-parish president’s job would have been replaced with a mayor for Lafayette and a parish president for Lafayette Parish.
That proposal has its roots in complaints that the merger of the city and parish governments gave residents living outside the city limits too much control over what happens within the city.
Five council members represent largely city districts and four members represent districts mainly outside of the city.
That balance of power is an issue because despite the consolidation of some aspects of the city and parish governments in 1996, the city remains a distinct legal entity, with separate taxes and its own Police Department, Fire Department and publicly owned utility system.
Opponents of splitting up government have said it will hurt the unincorporated areas of the parish, where the tax base might not be able to support a separate government while also maintaining current levels of service.