Effort to save Northside recreation centers and jobs dies without parish support

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LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — A motion to oppose the Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory’s decision to cut Parks and Recreation funding couldn’t get off the ground in a special meeting Monday afternoon.

Major budget cuts are coming for Lafayette Consolidated Government, as officials expect a $28M shortfall. It comes at the hefty price of cutting 67 total jobs and slashing budgets.

Most budget cuts come from the Parks and Recreation, and Community Development Departments. The purpose of cutting the budgets is to add more money to the general fund that is expected to be close to empty by 2022 if the city keeps spending.

While the city council was willing to discuss opposing the closure of four recreation centers on the lafayette’s northside and laying off 37 employees, the parish couldn’t get the support.

Most members of the city council came ready Monday to discuss a motion that would oppose the closure and layoffs in four recreation centers.

“In my opinion, the mayor basically preempted the process by doing this prior to the budget,” voiced District 5 City Councilman Glenn Lazard.

“I do not think it was done correctly,” admitted District 5 City Councilwoman Nanette Cook.

Only Parish Councilman Abraham “AB” Ruben whose district 5 represents all four centers on Lafayette’s northside was willing on the parish council.

That means as Lafayette City-Parish Attorney Paul Escott put it, “The item fails for introduction, and it’s dead.”

As a result, no one in the crowd could address the council, which caused many disruptions and outbursts until the meeting closed.

After the meeting, Devon Norman, Lafayette’s NAACP young person committee chair, told News 10, “Our councilman (Ruben) basically begged them to take this conversation and allow the public basically to address them. They’ve heard enough according to them because what they are saying is they don’t care about what we are saying.”

“I don’t think so because in the last council meeting not even a week ago we spent five hours hearing from the public,” replied Parish Councilman Josh Carlson didn’t support the discussion because he says a better plan is in the works which won’t bankrupt the city or close resources for low-income communities.

“My goal is that the kids in the neighborhood have a rec center that they can continue to utilize. If we only look at the next six weeks, that’s not the ultimate goal,” said Carlson.

Mayor-President Guillory said a long term proposal is coming later this week which will keep the rec centers open and cut costs. When referring to it Guillory said, “Let’s see what the community can bear.”

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