Lafayette City Council votes to separate city and parish funds after a blocked vote

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LAFAYETTE, La. — The Lafayette City and Parish Councils are making moves to keep four northside recreation centers from closing, but since they didn’t want to do it together, they are starting the process separately.

Monday night’s special city council meeting was all about making sure when it comes to Parks and Recreation, the city and parish don’t interfere with decisions they don’t pay for.

City District 3 Councilwoman Liz Hebert opened the discussion saying, “I represent the city of Lafayette, and it is my job to be a good steward of their tax dollars.”

When the parish council prevented a discussion on saving parks and recreation centers and jobs, the city council questioned why and how.

“The tipping point for me was when we had a meeting and we wanted to discuss moving forward with some of our facilities on the city, and we were not able to because the parish side did not want to discuss it, so that killed that,” explained Nanette Cook, city district 4 councilwoman.

While the city suggested a way to take the parish out of the picture, the parish said they have a new plan which will keep the four northside recreation centers open for one year past when they were set to close on October 31.

Their plan would use $200K from within the Parks and Recreation Department to give the councils and mayor-president time to find a long-term solution.

Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory understood frustrations when it came to revenue control with LCG’s various departments; however, he was pleased to see both councils work together,

“As everyone knows all the rec centers are in the city,” Guillory reminded the councils and audience. “So I thought that was a good olive branch from the parish as you see the two councils working together.”

District 2 Parish Councilman and Parish Council Chairman Kevin Naquin defended the parish council’s decision on August 4 which prevented a discussion to save Parks and Recreation centers and jobs.

“The Parish Council’s goal was certainly to find a way to keep them open, but we needed time to figure out where funding would come from,” Naquin said in a statement.

In addition, Naquin said the Parish Council’s goal is to have Parish parks become self-sufficient, so they don’t have to rely on City dollars. The Council is currently working on intergovernmental agreements with sports leagues that use Parish parks.

Naquin said, “I understand the meaning behind the City Council’s proposed ordinance calling for separating City and Parish Parks and Recreation funds; however I would like to have more time to get these intergovernmental agreements in place. This way, we can have a joint meeting and both councils can vote.”

But the council voted unanimously when it comes to funding decisions, working together is not the option they want.

“The Parish is contributing 10% of the total revenue for the operation of parks and facilities and has a 50% vote,” District 5 Councilman, Glenn Lazard, said. “Something’s wrong with that, and it appears this is the only option to correct it.”

The city ordinance will be up for final adoption on August 18. The parish council will decide whether to fund the recreation centers for an additional year Monday.

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