LAFAYETTE — The City-Parish Parks and Recreation Department is proposing a status quo budget for 2011-12 with few plans for major projects.
The City-Parish Council on Wednesday reviewed the division’s budget as part of ongoing budget hearings this month.
Parks and Recreation Director Gerald Boudreaux said the focus in the tight upcoming budget will be on maintaining existing parks, recreation centers, golf courses and swimming pools “to make sure everything we have is at a high level.”
He said that although there are no big “signature” projects in next year’s proposed budget, the recreation department has pushed forward with about $3 million in upgrades at the city’s three golf courses over the past two years.
That work included complete renovations of the greens at the Jay and Lionel Hebert Municipal Golf Course on Mudd Avenue and Les Vieux Chenes Municipal Golf Course near Youngsville.
The recreation department is also continuing to build out Parc Independence at Girard Park, the city’s only public playground for children with disabilities.
The first phase of the playground — a joint project with the Kiwanis Club of Lafayette — began last year and is now complete.
The proposed budget for 2011-12 sets aside $75,000 for more equipment at the park.
Councilman Brandon Shelvin proposed an amendment to raise that amount to $100,000, but the additional funds are subject to the approval of the full council when the budget comes up for final adoption later this year.
The total proposed recreation budget for 2011-2012 is $9.4 million, up from about $9 million last year.
The discussion of the recreation budget on Wednesday highlighted continuing issues with funding for the department.
The recreation department operates facilities throughout the parish, but the only dedicated source of revenue comes from a property tax paid within the city limits.
To pay for parks outside of the city limits, the recreation department relies on funds that would otherwise be used for road and drainage work in the unincorporated areas of the parish.
Those road and drainage funds are already inadequate to meet infrastructure needs even before the recreation funds are taken out.
“It’s a train wreck on its way here,” City-Parish President Joey Durel said.
One possible solution offered by Durel is to let the smaller municipalities take over city-parish parks within their boundaries.
City-parish officials in the past have also talked about the possibility of a recreation tax outside of the city, but most have said there seems to be little political will for that option.
“It’s just an issue we are going to have to talk about,” Durel said. “It’s impossible for us to continue to subsidize parish recreation when the citizens say they do not want to pay for parish recreation.”
In other business Wednesday, Councilman William Theriot proposed to strip from the budget about $670,000 for nonprofit groups, including social service agencies, the Acadiana Center for the Arts and Festival International.
The proposed cuts, which are subject to approval by the full council, set in motion what has become an annual debate over whether city-parish government should provide supplement funding for arts groups and social service agencies.
For the past three years, Theriot and Councilman Jared Bellard have tried to cut the nonprofit funding, but the majority of the council has repeatedly voted to keep the funding in place.
Budget hearings for other city-parish departments continue through the month.
The council is scheduled to adopt the final budget Sept. 27.
ON THE INTERNET:
For a listing of the times and dates of budget hearings, visit, http://www.lafayettela.gov/obcouncil/default.aspx and click on “Budget Meeting Schedule.”