Josh Guillory plans 70-project budget for LCG’s $86M in federal funding
A previous version of this story gave the wrong location for the Wednesday, July 21 town hall at the Clifton Chenier Center. We regret the error.
Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory revealed a 70-project proposal to spend Lafayette Consolidated Government’s $86 million federal windfall from President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act.
Guillory’s 18-page proposal was revealed Tuesday night as Lafayette’s city and parish councils gave it initial approval for a final vote set for their Aug. 17 meetings.
The federal funds are split between city and parish government operations, with $47.5 million for the parish and $38.3 million for the city.
The proposal from Guillory’s administration sets aside $22.6 million for drainage projects, $28.3 million for roads and bridges, $14.6 million for public safety improvements and $20.1 million for what the administration is calling competitive investments, which target quality of life improvements such as parks, public area lighting and digitization efforts.
City Councilmen Glenn Lazard and Pat Lewis are planning a public town hall meeting on the funds at the Clifton Chenier Center at 6 p.m. Wednesday. Residents unable to attend can email comments to DoNotSpeakCM@lafayettela.gov until noon July 23.
A copy of Guillory’s proposal is available at the end of this article and at this link.
Guillory's proposal was first released during Tuesday's meeting, including to council members, who were hesitant to move forward with the plan. That led to a diversion from the typical two-week vote procedure and instead, the final votes will be cast Aug. 17.
"They are good projects, and I want to feel good about it. I want to be able to tell the public what they want to feel good about the fact that we're using this money for these projects," Councilwoman Nanette Cook said.
"I don't feel like I'm going to be prepared to do that at the pace that we're on right now."
The largest project in Guillory’s proposal is a $12.5 million line item for drainage improvements in downtown Lafayette, funded by the city’s $38.3 million allocation.
“As downtown continues to attract the interest of developers, this investment in additional drainage will improve drainage needs for the downtown district,” Guillory’s administration wrote in its proposal.
At least $21 million of the total $86 million windfall is earmarked for projects in downtown Lafayette. Guillory said he was excited to focus funding on downtown improvements after a lean budget last year under the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Lafayette has grown out, and we should have been growing up," Guillory said.
"I'm not pointing fingers. But look, I caught a lot of arrows last year on the budget. I have a vision, and you're seeing it more accurately described now," he added. "But we had to get our fiscal house in order."
Downtown Development Authority CEO Anita Begnaud said she is "extremely encouraged" by the proposal's focus on improvements in downtown Lafayette.
“This investment is significant and sends a clear message that LCG’s Administration is serious about addressing drainage issues that have repeatedly impacted downtown’s small businesses," Begnaud said.
Citywide drainage projects are slated for another $5.2 million in Guillory’s proposal, also from the city’s cache of funds. Guillory is proposing $2 million each for projects to improve the city’s recreation centers, three public pools and parks in downtown Lafayette, plus $2.5 million for downtown lighting improvements.
He also is proposing $5 million for citywide asphalt road overlay projects, which “will fund additional road projects that aren't currently scheduled if need is determined.”
Another $4.5 million will go to parishwide asphalt road overlays from the parish’s $47.5 million federal allocation, which will also pay for $3.25 million in parish stormwater detention projects.
The proposal includes $3.25 million for fire protection in the parish, including $300,000 for fire hydrants, $100,00 for radios for volunteer fire departments and $2.8 million for seven tanker trucks for volunteer fire departments.
The parish’s cache will pay for a $1.2 million mobile command bus for shared use by all of the parish’s law enforcement and public safety agencies.
Guillory is earmarking $13.5 million of the parish’s $47.5 million windfall for projects that are either shared between the city of Lafayette and the parish or are entirely for the city, with the largest such cost coming from a $4 million staffing temporary adjustment at LCG.
City-only projects to improve roads, bridges, drainage and sidewalks will get $7.4 million from the parish’s federal allocation as part of that $13.5 million earmark.
"The needs of the city far exceeded $36 million, so this is one benefit of being a consolidated government, one benefit of having the dialogue between the two councils and the administration," Guillory said Tuesday.
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