LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — The Lafayette City Council has introduced a resolution to launch a $100,000 audit investigation into Mayor-President Josh Guillory’s awarding of drainage contracts.
The vote means the council will investigate the affairs of the City of Lafayette and its officials, departments, and offices. The resolution will be up for final approval in two weeks at the next City Council meeting.
Council Chairperson and Dist. 4 Rep. Nanette Cook said the audit is necessary to investigate how the city awarded certain drainage contracts. Guillory is also said to be under an FBI investigation for the same reasons, according to reporting by The Current.
The audit would center on Rigid Construction’s award of nearly $4 million through amendments. The company was given a $390,000 as-needed excavation contract instead of having the project go through the normal bidding process. Other work done by Rigid Construction includes the clandestine removal of a spoil bank in St. Martin Parish, which was conducted at night and landed Lafayette Consolidated Government in federal court.
“We have spent countless hours reviewing public records, talking to people to understand what’s really going on, and unfortunately the truth is much different than the story that’s being told by this administration,” said Current Columnist Geoff Daily during the meeting. “I think we all want to see money invested in drainage. Flooding is a serious issue in our area, but we shouldn’t assume that just because money is being spent on drainage that is going to help prevent people from flooding. We need to increase our scrutiny to understand what our money is being spent on because right now. From what I know, it’s not been spent on the things it should be.”
Cook said she’s had 18 main questions dating back to June. She presented this list of questions in hopes of getting some clarity. Cook says this next step is a result of not getting any answers.
“We were recommended, and it was suggested by [Guillory] that we do an audit,” said Cook. “His response to our questions was he was too busy, so why don’t you go ahead and do an audit.”
“I think it’s very important for us to simply get to the bottom of it,” said Dist. 5 City Councilman Glenn Lazard. “We can’t ignore all of the media coverage that this issue has received.”
Cook said the council is looking at about $50 million that has been allocated toward Rigid Construction. She said the $100,000 audit is .02% of that total, noting that it isn’t a lot of money in comparison to what’s already been spent. Lazard also noted that depending on the investigation, the council may not need to spend the entire amount.
Guillory did not fight the council’s decision and said his administration has nothing to hide.
“Although I do think spending $100,000 in taxpayers’ money is wasteful when you have other means available to you, at least you’re doing it, and there’s something positive that should be said,” said Guillory. “…I would ask you in all sincerity to be expedient. Get in, look at what you need to look at — and I’m not sure exactly what that is. It seems like you’re just looking for something, but nonetheless, go look, get your answers and let’s put this thing to bed and move forward doing our jobs for the people of this city and Parish.”
“This is not some kind of witch hunt,” said Lazard. “We’re not saying that anybody did anything wrong. We are simply doing our jobs as elected officials to ensure, like I said, that we are using taxpayers’ money wisely.”
In hopes of gaining clarity, Councilwoman Cook presented the following questions in June: