With City-Parish President Joey Durel still out and about, we were joined instead today on “Mornings with Ken and Bernie” by police Cpl. Paul Mouton and Fire Chief Robert Benoit for our latest edition of “Lafayette Live”.

The pair of public servants came in to discuss the renewal of a $6 million dollar a year public safety millage that they say is crucial to maintaining their current level of service.

Since passing the public safety millage, Lafayette's public safety departments have been able to hire and maintain additional staff members that both Cpl. Mouton and Fire Chief Benoit maintain have been essential to ensuring adequate service for the growing city. The millage has also allowed the city to increase fire fighter and police officer salaries to more competitive rates, meaning the departments are less likely to lose staff members that they've invested precious time and resources hiring training.

Cpl. Mouton described the potential impact the Lafayette Police Department would face if the $3 million millage was not renewed.

We feel like we're in a good place, we're in the process of getting nationally accredited. For this renewal not to occur, it would definitely affect the quality of the services. Our patrol section is our core section, so we'd have to pull everybody into patrol, and not have those specialized sections like traffic, crime suppression, K-9, alcohol crime prevention, those type of services would have to be pulled back on in order to maintain the core patrol section.

Fire Chief Robert Benoit; KPEL

Fire Chief Benoit echoed the sentiments expressed by Cpl. Mouton, and also described the increased insurance rates citizens of Lafayette could potentially face if the millage is not renewed and services are forced to be cut.

We have a minimum manning that we have to keep on duty every day. We'd have to go back and look at the budget and decide whether or not we'd make the negative cuts in the fire department, knowing it could affect our ratings maybe two or three marks.

A negative change in fire ratings could potentially mean increases in insurance costs.

It's going to cost either on the front end or the back end. You're not going to be able to get away from it. With the way the city has grown over the past 10-12 years and the increase in population, the departments have not grown with that. You're going to pay for the services you get.

 

The millage renewal will be on the voting ballot November 6.