LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — The Lafayette Parish council committed money to keep four threatened city recreation centers open.
The funds require city approval but would reimburse up to $200K spent on the maintenance and operations of all sites.
Surprisingly, the biggest advocate for the four centers which will take hits from the budget cuts voted against allotting the money. District 5 Councilman AB Rubin said it doesn’t do enough for the 37 employees set to lose their jobs.
“I wish we could do something about the people as well, you know? Call me soft. Call me what you want. That’s who I am,” expressed Rubin.
District 3 Parish Councilman Josh Carlson disagreed saying, “From the very beginning, my concern was not how many jobs could we keep. It was how many kids could we ensure still have a place to play basketball.”
The $200K was transferred out of $10M voters rededicated out of the library fund in 2019. The parish said the $200K rededicated funds to the city was all they could afford to keep northside rec centers operating and maintained for another year, but some argue more should be done.
“200k, 300k. Whatever it is. That’s is a spit in the face, man,” argued Albert Johnson who lives in Lafayette.
District 1 Parish Councilman Kevin Naquin countered, “I wouldn’t say that the $200K is a spit in the face. I would say that the $200K should be greatly appreciated because the parish doesn’t really have anything to offer, and we’re able to scrape up $200K.”
The council and Mayor-President Josh Guillory recognized the money as an act of unity on an issue that stirred much division in the public eye.
District 4 Parish Councilman John Guilbeau stated, “Were mistakes made in the rollout of the proposed cuts? Probably so. Could it have done differently? Probably so, but the bottom line remains. We heard, we processed, and we reacted.”
The city council will have to pass a companion ordinance to use the money, and it’s possible some of the $200K will be left when the year is over or the city could take separate action to fund Parks and Recreation; however, the council warns unless people ask for more taxes, not all cuts can be undone.
Naquin warned, “Until that changes, we’re going to see budget cuts. You’re going to see year after year fighting, scrapping, clawing to keep services going.”
There is still no long term solution in place to keep the four recreation centers open, but the administration said innovative partnerships could help lessen the costs of Parks and Recreation overall. The hope is the extra year of funding will make the difference.