LAFAYETTE, LA — Thursday the Lafayette City-Parish Consolidated Government approved a new budget for the 2020 fiscal year.
Some amendments passed. Others failed. Going in some of the biggest questions surrounded drainage, dredging, and jailing, but there was no question which issue sparked the most debate.
“Drainage was the obvious place to put that money”, argued Lafayette Mayor-President Joel Robicheaux.
At the Lafayette Consolidated Government budget meeting one issue stood out above the rest. Should money be diverted from infrastructure to address a rising issue, flooded city roads?
“This is bigger than just saying we’re pulling money from one account to the next”, District 4’s Kenneth Boudreaux reminded his fellow councilmen. “We could send everything to stormwater (drainage) if we want, but we still have to consider we have transportation needs. Economic development needs”.
Mayor-President Joel Robicheaux asked for $46M to be moved from road projects, “All I’m saying is, it’s not in the city, and we’re using city dollars.”
Louisiana Avenue currently extends to Butcher Switch Road. It will cost other $7M to connect to Gloria Switch Road, but in a 5-4 vote, the council decided to keep the project moving forward.
“Do we need stormwater diversion? Yes, we do”, said District 1 Councilman Kevin Naquin. “We need it all over the place; however, this project is viable and it has a heartbeat and it has a pulse and it’s going to make great improvements for the connectivity on that side of town”.
The other project would connect South City Parkway and Robley Drive to Kaliste Saloom. It has a $40M price tag, and work has yet to begin.
Liz Hebert, the councilwoman for District 8, says her constituents’ priorities have changed over time, “Up until 2016, it was a different time in my district as we were saying build roads, build roads, build roads, but ever since august 2016, my districts saying I don’t want to flood”.
The council voted for those $40M to go toward drainage, and the mayor-president is excited with what that money can do, “We have a pretty good chunk of money to get some really good projects done”.
An analysis by Public Works pointed to neglected cooleys and laterals which need to be cleaned. Mayor Robideauxs says Public Works will also start looking at larger projects prioritizing where to spend the money based on how many homes will be affected.
Two other issues of importance worth mentioning include $5M toward Vermillion River dredging which passed unanimously.
Another was the sheriff’s $1.7M request for jail funding which failed.