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State Of The Parish: City-Parish President Joey Durel Talks Momentum Lafayette

Joey Durel (photo by KPEL)
Joey Durel (photo by KPEL)

LAFAYETTE, La. (KPEL) — City-Parish President Joey Durel reignited the discussion on de-consolidation, while laying out his goals for fixing the parish’s financial woes and annexation problems in his annual State of the Parish address.

In a speech he titled Momentum Lafayette, Durel praised the city’s many accolades, including the sixteenth lowest unemployment rate in the country, the sixth fastest growing economy, and the second most optimistic city in the U.S.

But he then rehashed a scenario from the summer of 2012, setting the tone for the remainder of his speech. In July of last year, it was discovered that city and parish resources had allegedly been misallocated for many years, placing an unfair financial burden on the parish.

To help alleviate those problems, Durel announced the organization of a “blue ribbon committee” that would take a “comprehensive look at our community’s needs, particularly this government.”

The committee would look at current taxes and millages, Durel said, and would provide recommendations for either raising or lowering such taxes or through combining certain millages for more efficient use.

But Durel said the issue of consolidation needed to be addressed and a realistic solution implemented.

“We have three choices that I see,” Durel said. “Keep what we have and start losing momentum because it is an inevitable disaster. Completely undo what we have. Or go with a plan that would get us closer to the “American” form of government that we are supposed to have, one that is fair to the taxpayers of the city and of the entire parish, and one that takes a balanced approach to governing, whereby people are properly represented, with politicians elected based on where they pay taxes.”

Durel also proposed a potential fix to the issue of annexation, suggesting a legislatively created annexation map which would outline the future borders of the cities in the parish. Such a proposal would also include a stipulation which would allow cities to spend money in their “new ‘ares of influence.’”

An annexation map would reduce the demand on parish government, Durel said, while maintaining revenues.

The cities of Youngsville and Duson were singled out for praise, but Durel appealed to Broussard Mayor Charles Langlinais to end the controversial annexation lawsuit against the city of Lafayette.

“If they do, all services will be restored instantly,” Durel said. “It’s how a cooperative relationship should work.”

Durel also announced the retirement in the next 45 days of Traffic and Transportation director Tony Tramel, whose department will be moved into the Public Works department, pending city-parish council approval.

The formation of a planning department–which would combine planners from Traffic and Transportation, Zoning and Codes, and others–is also pending council approval, Durel said.

A non-profit organization to oversee the development of the Lafayette Horse Farm was also announced. The group, Lafayette Central Park, Inc., has created a board which includes a master gardener and others with a “wide, diverse variety of expertise [and] integrity” that Durel said would ensure “that we get a product that we will all be proud of.”

PARISH ACCOLADES

  • Best food city in America
  • Tastiest city in the South
  • Festival International named best music festival
  • Lowest unemployment rate in Louisiana
  • Sixteenth-lowest unemployment rate in the U.S.
  • Sixth-fastest growing economy in the country
  • Sixth-fastest growing middle class in the U.S.
  • Largest employment increase in the U.S.
  • Best job market in the country
  • Fastest growing metropolitan area
  • Number one midsize city in the country for job growth; fourth among all cities of any size
  • Second-most optimistic city in the U.S.
  • Highest percentage increase of household income in the U.S.
  • Named Milken Institute Top 200 Performing Cities (24); top-ranked city in Louisiana

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