Lafayette Protect the City Committee holding five town hall discussing deconsolidation

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LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — Should the city and parish of Lafayette further deconsolidate. If you have an opinion, your local council members are asking for input.

District 3 City Councilwoman Liz Hebert Protect the City Committee Member Rodney Bergeron hosted the first of five town hall meetings on a 28-page draft of the committee’s recommendations Monday.

Hebert explained, “This is not a hard and fast document that cannot be changed. Why we’re having these town hall meetings is to get your input, your feedback so we can make changes.”

It was universal in the town hall meeting that there are elements from the current consolidated form of government that just don’t work, but opinions vary on which areas should be changed or if the current charter needs to be overhauled altogether like the current draft from Protect the City Committee asks for. They made nine suggestions including splitting the mayor-president position. Not everyone agrees.

When one man asked if there was a recommendation to “leave things as they are”, Bergeron answered, “No. We’ve encountered too many issues to leave things alone.”

Since January, the committee has uncovered examples of the city money being spent for parish responsibilities. Its members argue neither the city council or parish councils have full control over their budgets, and a mayor-president will always have a conflict of interests.

“The city does not currently have self-government, but it deserves self-government,” Lafayette resident André Comeaux. “The question is how will you get the parish council on board to vote to put a charter commission together to deconsolidate?”

Parish Councilman Josh Carlson said he’s not committed to a charter commission with such broad changes yet.

“To get to something better do we have to scorch the Earth and go back to nothing and rebuild? That’s what appears to be communicated instead of making small changes,” Carlson said.

One change most agreed with was letting Lafayette have its own mayor like every other municipality in the parish. Population trends lend the committee to believe more people outside of the city could vote for the mayor-president than those inside the city in the next election.

One woman asked, “If we do have the option for Lafayette to elect its own mayor, do all the municipalities have to approve that?”

When Bergeron replied, “Yes.” The woman interrupted, “Then that seems unconstitutional”, and the crowd applauded.

According to the Protect the City Committee, of the 3,100 parishes/counties in the country only 48 are consolidated.

Four more town halls are scheduled for next week. The meetings are as follows:

City Council Members Pat Lewis (District 1) & Glenn Lazard (District 5) host

           WHAT:         Wednesday, June 16, 2021

          WHERE:        Clifton Chenier Center

                                 220 W Willow St-Building C, Lafayette, LA 70501

              TIME:        5:30 pm to 7:30 pm

City Council Member Nanette Cook (District 4) hosts Town Hall Meeting

           WHAT:         Thursday, June 17, 2021

          WHERE:        South Regional Library  Large Conference Room

                                 6101 Johnston St, Lafayette, LA 70503

              TIME:         6:00 pm to 8:00 pm

City Council Member Andy Naquin (District 2) hosts Town Hall Meeting

           WHAT:         Thursday, June 17, 2021

          WHERE:        Robichaux Recreation Center

                                 1919 Eraste Landry Rd, Lafayette, LA 70506

              TIME:        7:00 pm

Protect the City Committee schedules Public Hearing for Citizen Comment

on the PTC Draft Report

           WHAT:         Tuesday, June 22, 2021

          WHERE:        Ted A. Ardoin City-Parish Council Auditorium

                                 705 W. University Avenue

              TIME:        5:30 pm

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