UPDATE: Councils Scrap Plan to Use COVID Money on Infrastructure
UPDATE, AUGUST 18:
Mayor-President Josh Guillory’s plan to spend COVID relief funds on infrastructure projects is dead.
The Lafayette City Council and the Lafayette Parish Council jointly voted to hire a consultant to decide how best to use the federal funds.
That development at Tuesday night's joint meeting of the councils came after council members and concerned citizens voiced concerns that Lafayette Consolidated Government would be forced to pay back the federal government if those funds were used for non-COVID-relief projects. Other concerned citizens and local non-profit leaders also expressed concerns that LCG was squandering a golden opportunity to address homelessness and other problems exacerbated by the pandemic.
The councils will now spend $360,000 to hire their new consultant. The remainder of the $85 million will go into two separate funds--one for the city and one for the parish. The city's share will amount to about $38 million; the parish's, about $45 million.
LCG has until 2024 to spend the money.
ORIGINAL STORY, July 20:
Nearly $51 million in federal coronavirus funds will be used to fix roads, bridges, and drainage infrastructure across Lafayette Parish if Mayor-President Josh Guillory gets his way.
Guillory released his plan for spending nearly $85 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds during Tuesday's special joint meeting of the Lafayette city and parish councils. The members of the councils voted to introduce the proposed ARPA budget and defer a final vote on the ordinance until August 17. This gives council members, who received the plan minutes before the meeting began, an extra two weeks to review the plan before they make a final vote.
In his message attached to the plan, Guillory said he devised his budget after meeting with community stakeholders, receiving input from city and parish council members, and input from LCG departmental directors and staff.
"I am thankful to our City and Parish Council members and community stakeholders for participating
in this process and recommending projects for funding," Guillory wrote. "We have taken each request seriously and
worked to maximize the impact of these funds in addressing core infrastructure, public safety, and
quality of life needs. Of the $38.4 million in Council requests, I am pleased that we have been able to
accommodate $32.8 million to fund their projects."
Guillory's proposal includes using parish ARPA funds for city projects. Those projects include $1 million for improving the right turn lane on Ambassador Caffery Parkway at Kaliste Saloom Road, $800,000 to put a roundabout at the intersection of North University Avenue and Renaud Drive, and $600,000 to make the sidewalks on West St. Mary Boulevard and St. Landry Street ADA compliant.
In all, $28.3 million is budgeted for road and bridge improvements in the parish. Another $22.6 million would be dedicated to drainage projects across the parish, including $3.5 million in stormwater detention projects. Another $14.6 million would go to public safety initiatives. That money would be used to help local fire and police departments upgrade their equipment. Another $20.1 million would go to "competitive investments." $10.1 million of that competitive investment money would fund upgrades to Lafayette's city parks and rec centers.
To read the full ARPA budget proposal, see the PDF below.
The council also introduced Guillory's proposed operating budget for Lafayette Consolidated Government's 2021-22 fiscal year. Budget hearings will take place over the next two months, with a final vote on the budget scheduled for September. To see the full Fiscal Year 2021-22 budget, a summary of that budget, and Guillory's budget message, see the PDFs below.