Posted: Jun 4, 2011 10:37 AM
Source: Associated Press
LAFAYETTE- A proposal to replace Lafayette's consolidated city-parish government with separate governments for the city and the parish could go before voters as early as October.
A charter commission formed by the City-Parish Council to explore changes in local government recommended in April that voters should decide whether to undo the 1996 merger of Lafayette's city and parish governments.
The Lafayette council is scheduled to decide Tuesday whether to put the issue to voters in October, according to The Advocate.
The council is legally mandated to bring the charter commission's proposal to voters, but there have been questions on when that should happen.
For example, the U.S. Justice Department must sign off on proposals that directly or indirectly affect where and how people vote in most Southern states. No problems are expected, but the federal review is required, and waiting for its completion could push the timeline back beyond the fall elections.
Louisiana law appears to require that a charter commission's recommendation be put before voters on the next available election date after the recommendation is approved, according to city-parish attorneys.
Boudreaux said the deconsolidation proposal could be put on the October ballot without pre-approval from the Justice Department.
If the proposal passes and the Justice Department later says it has found a problem with the change, a second election could be held to amend the proposal to address the problem, Boudreaux said.
"Anything that is not good and sound could be dealt with after the fact," he said.
The deconsolidation proposal would replace the current nine-member City-Parish Council with two separate councils - a seven-member council for the parish and a seven-member council for the city.
The deconsolidation proposal has its roots in complaints that the merger of the city and parish governments gave residents living outside the city limits too much control over what happens within the city.