Growing tensions between Baton Rouge and the suburbs surrounding it—compounded by the ongoing effort to create another new city—have sparked whispers of disbanding the consolidated form of government in East Baton Rouge Parish.
Baton Rouge, it turns out, hardly the only city grappling with such discussions.
Over in Acadiana, Lafayette is also reconsidering its form of city-parish government, with discussions progressing further there than they have in Baton Rouge.
On Dec. 8, Lafayette Parish voters will decide whether to amend their home rule charter to split the city-parish council into a Lafayette city council and a Lafayette parish council. The current nine-member council represents the whole parish, including five other municipalities, with their own city councils.
While Lafayette Mayor-President Joel Robideaux opposes the effort, two former mayors—Dud Lastrapes and Joey Durel—support the amendment, along with the mayor of Youngsville, according to Lafayette’s digital news outlet The Current.
A pro-amendment Fix the Charter PAC has been created, while the opposition started a Facebook page called Lafayette Citizens Against Taxes, The Current reports.
Two companies with Baton Rouge ties have been drawn into the fray.
Opponents have “stoked suspicion” that the charter amendment is for the benefit of Southern Lifestyle Development—which is based in Lafayette but also does business in the Capital Region—because some key figures behind the Fix the Charter PAC also work for the development company, according to The Current.
Also on the Lafayette ballot Saturday is an amendment to protect Lafayette Utilities System, or LUS, from private management contracts, like the one proposed earlier this year with Baton Rouge-based Bernhard Capital Partners. The BCP-LUS proposal sparked public backlash and was withdrawn in November. Protecting LUS is also considered one of the goals behind the charter amendment.
Meanwhile, back in Baton Rouge, proposals to disband the consolidated city-parish government have only been talked about, most recently by the NAACP.
But should St. George become the parish’s fifth incorporated city, the rationale behind a consolidated city-parish government may increasingly diminish, which is one of the possibilities Business Report lays out in its latest cover package on the incorporation.
Read the cover package here.