“The Parish Is…Broke” Lafayette City-Parish President Joey Durel Says
Lafayette City-Parish President Joey Durel announced Thursday night that city and parish resources have been misallocated for several years. Durel presented his budget to the Lafayette City-Parish Council, which includes solutions on how to address this problem.
Durel, though, made it clear that this revelation will change the conversation in Lafayette.
When city and parish governments were consolidated, Durel says an allocation company was assigned to perform an analysis every two years or so. Because the city provides services to the unincorporated areas of the parish, that analysis determines how much money should be allocated between the two entities.
But concerns about the allocation company were brought up by the retired Chief Financial Officer Becky Lalumia, who said she wasn't satisfied with the current allocation officer. Then Lalumia's replacement, Lorrie Toups, started raising similar concerns. Toups told Durel that his administration was only being reimbursed by the unincorporated tax dollars at 16 percent, when by his reasoning his administration should be getting reimbursed by 46 percent, based on the percentage of the population living in the unincorporated areas of the parish.
"We then find out...it looks like Public Works has been spending 60 percent of its time outside the city of Lafayette yet only getting reimbursed 30 percent," says Durel.
The result of all these findings is that parish government is being paid more than it ought to, possibly with funds that rightfully belong to the city, according to Durel.
"It's against the law to spend city dollars outside of a city," says Durel. "I have no doubt in my mind that it wasn't malicious, but I have no doubt in my mind that it was done on purpose." He thinks it was done "legally, but I think highly inappropriately" to keep the parish government from going bankrupt.
Durel says this means either city services to unincorporated areas will have to be scaled back significantly or taxpayers will have to approve an increase in taxes in order to pay for such services.
To listen to Bernadette Lee's interview with Joey Durel, CLICK BELOW:
(Bernadette Lee, Nathan Pike and Brandon Comeaux contributed to this story.)