LAFAYETTE — More than $1 million in cuts are still in dispute with the City-Parish Council moving into the final stage of adopting the administration’s proposed budget for next year.
The council met Tuesday to review budget amendments that were made over a series of hearings in August — most of them minor tweaks that have sparked no controversy.
Still up for debate are series of cuts pushed by Councilman William Theriot, who so far has received little vocal support from fellow council members.
Theriot has proposed nixing $491,000 budgeted as an annual subsidy for the Cajundome and another $673,000 for social service agencies and arts groups, including supplemental funding for the Acadiana Center for the Arts and Festival International.
Those cuts would need the support of a majority of the nine-member council when the budget faces adoption Sept. 27.
If recent history offers any guidance, the funding for the arts and social service agencies will likely remain in place.
Theriot and Councilman Jared Bellard have tried for the past three years to eliminate the arts and social service funding, arguing that tax money should not be used to support nonprofit groups.
The majority of the council voted each time to keep the money in the budget.
Supporters have argued that government has a role in helping arts organizations and social service agencies, including groups that feed the hungry and serve victims of domestic violence.
Also in dispute is City-Parish President Joey Durel’s plan to use money from the city’s traffic-camera enforcement program to cover routine operating expenses.
Theriot argues the money should be used for one-time projects directly related to traffic safety — intersection improvements, signs, road markings. That’s how the traffic-camera fines have generally been used in the past.
Durel has said he would rather not use the traffic-camera fines to prop up the budget but that the money is needed to offset flat tax collections and dramatically rising cost for employee health care and retirement.
On Tuesday, Theriot also questioned why Durel did not consult the council before extending the contract with Redflex Traffic Systems to continue operating the city’s traffic-camera enforcement program.
The initial four-year contract with Redflex expired earlier this year but was renewed by Durel for another year, City-Parish Chief Administrative Officer Dee Stanley said.
Stanley said Durel had the legal authority to renew the contract without seeking council approval, as he does with many city-parish contracts.
“A hot-button item like this, I’m very surprised that this didn’t come before the council,” Theriot said.
City-parish government’s 2011-12 budget year begins Nov. 1. The total proposed budget is $558 million. The council’s discussions have focused on the proposed operating budget of $134 million.