Lafayette Mayor-President Joel Robideaux has used his line-item veto power on proposals to give LUS employees a raise and add firefighters.
In a message, dated Monday, September 18, 2018, Robideaux notified the council that he had vetoed the following:
A budget amendment that sets the LUS director’s salary to $1. (This was an effort by Councilman Bruce Conque to keep Robideaux from filling the position until more is known about the future of LUS.)
An amendment that set the LUS Communications Director salary at $1-for the same reason.
An amendment that gave LCG employees a 2% cost of living raise.
An amendment that reduced the overtime budget in the fire department and increased the number of firefighters by 10.
Robideaux cited a legal opinion that states the charter gives him, and him only, power to set directors’ salaries as his justification to veto the LUS amendments.
The legal opinion, written by Robideaux appointee, Paul Escott, also says the reduction would make the job impossible to fill that would place LUS in violation of the covenants for the bonds issued to fund LUS facilities.
Robideaux began negotiations to sell LUS one year before the council learned of his efforts by a media report. To read about that click here and here.
In rejecting the cost of living raise, Robideaux listed a lot of reasons, but the bottom line of his memo was simply, the city couldn’t afford it.
He said Lafayette led the nation in job loss last year, and the city’s fund’s balances dropped by $4,000,000 since 2015.
The city has upcoming bills for employee retirement contribution, he added.
Lastly, Robideaux points out that the raises would be a continuing expense, but the money used to fund them is not recurring income.
Regarding the fire department, Robideaux wrote he has concerns about the department’s personnel costs, and he’s looking into them.
These concerns include a very high rate of sick leave taken by fire employees and an increase in overtime costs despite an increase in personnel.
Robideaux also writes that the city’s fire insurance rating is good and indicates the fire department is doing a good job of keeping that rating.
If you’d like to read Robideaux’s message: Veto-package-to-Council