Lafayette’s City-Parish Council opted to advance a $3.8 million proposal to increase pay for Lafayette’s Police Department without approving a plan to fund it, setting up a Nov. 5 final vote.
The council voted unanimously Tuesday night to increase the police department’s pay plan, including boosting starting officer pay to $40,000 a year and providing an average 17% raise for the rest of the department’s employees.
Tuesday’s vote was unusual in that Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux requested a separate vote just to get the item onto the next meeting’s agenda, which is usually routinely approved with a single vote that covers all upcoming items for the next meeting.
The council approved a routine measure before the pay increase vote that renews an unchanged pay schedule for police from the last year, a move that will not prohibit the proposed raise. It also approved a pay schedule renewal for Lafayette’s Fire Department that includes state-required 2% raises for certain firefighters with an estimated cost of $275,000.
Outgoing Lafayette City-Parish council member Kenneth Boudreaux said he supports a pay increase for police but wants the council to discuss how to pay for the $3.8 million annual expense.
Boudreaux said repeatedly that he supported the pay raise for police but wanted to force a thorough discussion of how to pay for the $3.8 million annual expense and what to cut to find the money.
“I’m just trying to find a way to preserve the general fund, which takes care of not only the police department and many other departments as well,” Boudreaux said.
The $3.8 million annual price tag for the pay raise would add to the city’s already over spent budget, unless other spending is cut or revenues are increased.
Mayor-President Joel Robideaux proposed the budget in July with $107.3 million in spending for the city against a projected $101.7 million in revenue for the year.
In August, Councilwoman Nanette Cook added a one-time allocation of $5 million for dredging the Vermilion River, putting the city already $11 million behind its bills for next year, though the money to dredge the river is expected to now come from $8 million in former library funds moved to drainage and infrastructure by voters through a ballot measure on Saturday.
The proposed police pay increase would increase the current deficit to $15 million, and about $10 million of that would become costs the city would have to pay every year.