Lafayette councils vote to split Public Works into 3 departments

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LAFAYETTE, LA — The new Lafayette City and Parish Councils adopted their first ordinances Tuesday night. Among them was splitting The Public Works Department into three new departments: The Department of Drainage and The Department of Traffic, Roads, and Bridges.

“This is the current public works flow chart,” Mayor-President Josh Guillory showed during a joint council meeting. “Anybody running a business would look at this spaghetti model and have a headache.”

The Lafayette City and Parish councils were in agreement Public Works needs a makeover.

District 2 City Councilman Andy Naquin simply said, “We’re focusing on accountability and efficiency, and that is what the question is tonight.”

Currently, there are 327 fulltime employees inside public works and one department head. It has a $90M annual budget and a long list of responsibilities, such as 1000 miles of roadway, over 200 bridges, 2,600 miles of drainage, 100 buildings, over 1,000 vehicles, 500 pieces of equipment, trash collection, environmental quality, etc.

“This system I think is impeding the great employees of LCG from being the best employees they can be,” said Raymond Rayo, an engineer who worked on a team to access The Public Works Department.

Tuesday’s vote created two new departments for drainage as well as traffics, streets and bridges. City leadership explained divisions will be separated with new leaders, but no interruption of services.

District 3 City Councilwoman Liz Hebert expressed what the questions she’s heard from citizens, “A lot of my constituents are saying it’s great that it’s more organized, but I want my ditch dug out,” she said.

Financial documents show funding the new positions will come from moving money within the department and eliminating unfilled positions. One compromise is leaving environmental quality positions that Guillory thought were not needed.

District 5 City Councilman Glenn Lazard pushed back, “If I’m missing something, someone please correct me, but I was of the impression that they were put there because there was a demonstrated need for them.”

“I don’t see a need to fill them,” Guillory stated. “However, based on the feedback I received, I recognize that there could be a need,” he continued.

Officials see this as what is needed to provide more efficient services in each department down the road.

Mayor-President Guillory divided what he wanted to do with public works into three steps. An assessment first, this organization second, and next getting more boots on the ground.

About tonight’s vote, Guillory said, “It’s a crucial step, but it’s the first step.”

Right now, there are 327 fulltime employees in The Public Works Department. The split will move 71 fulltime employees to The Drainage Department, 86 fulltime employees to the Roads, Traffic, and Bridges Department, and keep 168 fulltime employees in The Public Works Department.

You can read Mayor-President Guillory’s full PowerPoint presentation here:

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