LAFAYETTE — The City-Parish Council on Tuesday voted to maintain a $491,000 subsidy for the Cajundome and $673,000 in funding for arts groups and social service agencies.
The votes came when the council adopted a $134 million operating budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year, which begins Nov. 1.
Councilman William Theriot had proposed the cuts, arguing that city-parish government should not use tax revenue to shore up the Cajundome’s budget or to support the work of nonprofit groups.
He found little support among fellow council members.
Theriot was the only member to vote in favor of cutting funding for the Cajundome — a measure that failed 8-1.
Theriot’s proposal to strip funding for nonprofit groups failed 7-2, with only Theriot and Councilman Jared Bellard voting in support of the cut.
The $673,000 in so-called “external agency funding” helps support a wide range of social service agencies and arts groups, including the Acadiana Center for the Arts and Festival International.
This marks the fourth year that Theriot and Bellard have advocated taking nonprofits out of the budget, but the majority of the council has consistently maintained the funding.
Representatives from the several arts groups and social service agencies had turned out to oppose the cuts.
The council in past years has spent hours debating the issue of whether local government should be funding nonprofit groups, but this year the council quickly called for a vote after only a few minutes of discussion.
Theriot also opposed City-Parish President Joey Durel’s plan to use money from the city’s automated 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, such as signs or intersection improvements.
The money has generally been used that way in the past.
“This is not the intent of what this is supposed to be providing,” Theriot said of using traffic-camera money for routine operating expenses.
Durel has agreed in principle, saying he would rather spend the money on traffic-safety projects.
But Durel has also said that the traffic-camera money is needed to reconcile flat tax collections with rising expenses for employee retirement and health care.
“The plan is, at this point, for this to be a one-time expenditure,” City-Parish Chief Administrative Officer Dee Stanley said of using the traffic-camera money for recurring expenses.
The council voted 7-2 to use about $1.3 million traffic-camera fines to support salaries and other operating costs in the traffic section of the Police Department, with Theriot and Bellard in opposition.
The total proposed budget is $558 million. The council’s discussions have focused on the proposed operating budget of $134 million.