Lafayette mayor-president makes statement on budget wrap up

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LAFAYETTE, La. (From Lafayette Consolidated Government)- The following is Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory’s full statement on the passage of the city and parish’s budget:

“We have just passed a budget for the city and parish of Lafayette, for the 2020 – 2021 fiscal year. From July 21st, to September 17th, there were more than a dozen public hearings on every aspect of the budget and operations of Lafayette Consolidated Government.

My personal thanks to everyone who participated in this process – from our award-winning Finance Department, to all of our LCG Department Directors, to citizens and stakeholders across the parish, to our city and parish council members and staff.

I am proud to share that we have made significant progress in protecting the finances of the city of Lafayette. We have reduced the expenditure of city general fund dollars by millions in both the current budget year, and the coming 2020-21 Fiscal Year.

We’ve begun our efforts to do more with less and focus on our core priorities. We’ve also begun working to transition some of our venues to public-private partnership models to grow our philanthropic community and relieve pressure on taxpayer dollars.

These steps are necessary because our economic and fiscal outlook for the next two years is uncertain at best.

Just days ago, the Louisiana Legislative Auditor named Lafayette Parish as one of the 10 parishes most impacted by COVID-19, and Hurricane Laura. We also continue to be affected by low energy prices.

Ongoing impacts from the pandemic and low energy prices are expected to linger for some time. The Legislative Auditor is forecasting a decline of $19 million in tax revenues to our city and parish in 2021, and a decline of $11 million in 2022. Also, economist Lauren Scott of LSU has forecast that job recovery across Acadiana will be slow due to the twin impacts of COVID and low oil prices. He predicts that job recovery for our area won’t happen before the end of 2022.

Our short-term sales tax outlook is better than expected, likely helping our final 2019-2020 budget numbers next month. This inflow, however, is largely due to our efforts to restart our businesses with Safe Shop, and the injection of Federal stimulus dollars into the economy. Our hospitality and tourism sectors are still seriously hampered, and we don’t know when they’ll return to normal. Facilities like the Cajundome are closed, and we don’t know when they’ll reopen.

This means that while our short-term numbers are better, our fiscal situation is still looking very challenging through the end of 2022.

I am pleased that we have significantly reduced the use of City General Fund dollars in the current year, and we are using only $11 million in the budget for the coming Fiscal Year. While this is more than the $4 million in the Executive Budget I submitted, it is a lot less than the $25 to $28 million we were expecting, had we continued the spending habits of the past.

I am proud that we have come through this budget process forecasting no significant reduction in the city of Lafayette fund balance. That’s a serious accomplishment, especially under these circumstances. I am proud we have come together around the realization that we can’t continue doing business the way we always have. I am proud that every Department Director participated in this process and that there is new awareness among our leadership of the need to do more with less and to transform our operations.

I look forward to sharing more in the coming months about our initiatives in drainage, transportation and public safety.

I look forward to working with our stakeholders on improving our parks, empowering our citizens who use them, and expanding private sector participation in our cultural facilities.

I also look forward to our efforts to provide our police officers the training, knowledge, situational awareness, tools and equipment to protect lives, property, and themselves, while de-escalating violence.

The dedication of $1 million to this purpose reflects our commitment to place our community, our officers, and our people in the best possible position to be safe, successful, and prosperous.

Thank you. May God Bless You. And may God continue to Bless, our city, and our parish.”

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