Lafayette City Councilman Pat Lewis is asking the council to consider appointing a committee to explore various issues with consolidated government, including deconsolidation of the city and parish or allowing the city of Lafayette to elect its own mayor.
Lewis announced Friday afternoon he will ask the City Council at its Jan. 19 meeting to create a Protect the City Committee to look at the effects of being part of Lafayette Consolidated Government on the city of Lafayette, the only municipality that's part of LCG.
"The committee would be tasked to examine topics ranging from the City Council’s best approach at protecting city tax dollars, to protection of the ratepayer-owned Lafayette Utilities System, to the expenditure of city tax dollars outside of its limits, to whether consolidation or deconsolidation benefits the city of Lafayette," Lewis said in a news release.
He told The Acadiana Advocate he hopes to form the committee by March. It will report its findings to the council, he said, "Then we'll put together an ordinance to establish a home rule charter commission to look at either full deconsolidation or having a separate mayor and parish president."
Lewis, who said he has support from a majority of the City Council, also wants to pursue a charter amendment making the Lafayette police chief's position an elected one instead of having the chief appointed by the mayor-president.
"He would be accountable to the people of the city who elected him, not to the administration, Lewis said.
Lewis hopes to place on the Fall 2022 ballot a measure to amend the charter.
A 2018 charter amendment approved by voters split the City-Parish Council, allowing city residents alone to elect a separate city council for the first time since LCG was created in 1996. The mayor-president position remained consolidated.
But the autonomy expected with the 2018 charter amendment, Lewis said, has not been realized one year into the change, "particularly involving joint City-Parish matters that require input from both councils.
"Unfairly, the associated expenditures are oftentimes funded almost entirely by City of Lafayette tax dollars, over which the City Council has not been allowed control," Lewis said. "Even the City Council’s attempt to retain its own legal counsel for its independent interpretation of the Home Rule Charter has been stifled by the administration."
The Protect the City Committee, as proposed, would consist of seven people, one appointed by each of the five City Council members and two appointed by the collective City Council from residents and registered voters of the city.