LAFAYETTE — The City-Parish Council wrapped up a month-long series of discussions Wednesday on a lean proposed budget for 2011-2012.
A hearing for public input on the budget is scheduled Thursday — a hearing that generally draws a sparse crowd.
Only one person addressed the council last year on Lafayette’s budget, and only three the year before that.
Council members have made only small additions to City-Parish President Joey Durel’s proposed budget, though the window of opportunity for changes remains open until the council votes to officially adopt the budget in September.
The only major cuts have been proposed by Councilman William Theriot, who wants to strip $491,000 budgeted as an annual subsidy for the Cajundome and another $670,000 in city-parish funding for arts groups and social service agencies.
Those cuts would need the approval of the full council, and few of Theriot’s fellow council members have offered support.
Theriot and Councilman Jared Bellard have tried to cut the arts and social service funding for the past three years, but the majority of the council has consistently approved the funding.
Theriot has also objected to a plan by Durel to use about $1.3 million in fines from the city’s automated traffic-camera enforcement program to cover routine operating expenses.
The money has been used in the past for roadway markings, intersection improvements and other safety traffic projects, and Theriot said the fines should not be used to cover routine operating expenses.
Durel has said he, too, would rather that the money continue to be used for traffic safety projects but that it is badly needed next year to fill holes in the budget.
The proposed budget for the 2011-12 budget year, which begins Nov. 1, is already borrowing about $4 million from the city-parish savings account to cover expenses that are expected to outpace revenue from sales taxes, property taxes and fees.
The total proposed budget is $558 million, but much of that is for paying off debts and costs related to running the city-owned Lafayette Utilities System.
The council’s control is wielded over the operating budget, which is proposed at $134 million, down from $141 million this year.
There is little wiggle room.
Durel has implemented a hiring freeze and his proposed budget nixes pay raises for city-parish government’s roughly 2,300 employees.
They have received at least a 2 percent pay boost every year for the past 10 years.
A hearing for public input on the proposed budget is set for 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the main city-parish government offices on University Avenue.