Two Lafayette City-Parish Councilmen are proposing the immediate allocation of $12 million in parish library funds to build a new Northeast Regional Library and expand the library in Carencro.

The capital budget amendment, coupled with an Oct. 12 ballot measure to spend $10 million in library funds on parish roads, bridges, drainage and recreation, would dwindle the library system's $26 million fund balance down to $4 million.

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The main branch of the Lafayette Public Library is pictured just before it re-opened in July 2015 after being closed for renovations for four years.

An ordinance by Councilmen Jay Castille and Kenneth Boudreaux, with endorsement from the public library system, is on Tuesday's council agenda for introduction. Adoption would come two weeks later.

Andrew Duhon, library board of control vice chairman and finance committee chairman, said the ordinance is doing immediately what the library board intended to do with its 2020 budget.

"The money's there now," he said.

The $4 million remaining balance if the Oct. 12 measure passes, Duhon said, "for now is enough to function on."

The library system, next year, will have to start dipping into its fund balance for operation and maintenance costs because voters in 2018 did not renew a 1.61-mill library property tax which expires at the end of 2019, he said. Two other library taxes remain on the books.

"It's going to require a lot more vigilance on our part," Duhon said, "to keep track of ongoing losses year to year and be able to react to it, either cutting expenses or trying to get back all or a portion of the millage we lost."

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Lafayette City-Parish Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux at a press conference April 9, 2019, proposed a new library for the northeast side of the parish.

Boudreaux said the immediate budget amendment is necessary to allow Lafayette Consolidated Government to acquire land for the Northeast Regional Library and begin expanding the Carencro library. 

The proposal allocates $8 million for the new library in Boudreaux's council district and $4 million to expand the Carencro library in Castille's district. Both cannot seek re-election to the council because of term limits and will be off the council in January.

The North Regional Library in Carencro was the first of four new regional libraries built since 2012. At 12,000 square feet, it's the smallest of the new libraries with only one meeting room and two study rooms. Carencro donated adjacent land for the expansion.

Boudreaux said he's been requesting for years a library east of Evangeline Thruway and Interstate 49, which are physical barriers to pedestrians and bicyclists trying to access the downtown library on the west side of the highways. He has identified three potential sites for the Northeast Regional Library, all on or near Louisiana Avenue.

In April, the council agreed to place before voters Oct. 12 a proposal to re-dedicate $10 million from the library system's $26 million fund balance to parish roads, bridges, drainage and recreation. Mayor-President Joel Robideaux had requested $18 million of the $26 million by used for roads, bridges and drainage.

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