LAFAYETTE, La. - Through the diligence and hard work of Lafayette Consolidated Government’s (LCG) Office of Finance & Management, Lafayette Parish was reimbursed more than $13 million dollars in CARES Act funding, primarily for salaries and expenses related to the work of first responders during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Seeking the best use of these funds, Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory is offering three budget measures to strengthen and improve the sustainability and resiliency of the City of Lafayette. Guillory said the moves will “provide competitive compensation for our first responders, fund needed training and resources to our police officers, and keep faith with LCG employees.” Guillory said that these measures are critical to ensuring that LCG can compete for the best, most capable candidates possible to serve as our police officers, fire fighters, and LCG employees:
The first proposal aims to dedicate $10 million of the CARES Act reimbursement funds to the Police and Fire Sustainability and Resiliency Fund to finance local and state mandated cost of living adjustments for police and fire personnel.
Improved compensation for first responders who provide police and fire protection is among the highest priorities of Lafayette Consolidated Government. The recent increase in starting pay for new police officers was an important first step. However, it created significant fiscal impacts on the City General Fund that will only grow over time. Competitive compensation throughout the structure of the police and fire departments is beyond the current means of the City. This resiliency fund would provide a multi-year path to sustainably improve the City’s ability to provide competitive compensation in the long term.
Additionally, at the recent budget adoption public hearing, Mayor-President Guillory proposed the dedication of $1 million of the CARES Act reimbursement to fund comprehensive crisis management training for the Lafayette Police Department.
It is critical that officers have the knowledge, situational tools, and equipment to protect lives and property, while de-escalating violence potential and expanding available non-lethal measures. In the current environment, both nationally and locally, our officers deserve the best information, resources and situational training to protect themselves and others in times of potential violence. The dedication of $1 million to this purpose is a reflection of our commitment to place our community, our officers, and our people in the best possible position to be safe, successful and prosperous.
Finally, earlier this year, funding for a 2% pay increase for LCG employees was omitted from the proposed budget due to the expected impact from coronavirus and plummeting energy prices. At the time, Mayor-President Guillory pledged that he would not oppose this measure in the future, if LCG is financially able to afford it. “As a result, l will be proposing the reinstatement of this pay increase to be considered by the councils at the first council meetings in the new fiscal year,” Guillory said.
This CARES Act reimbursement of public safety costs during the COVID-19 pandemic provides an important opportunity. LCG can now provide resources for more competitive pay so that we can hire and retain the best available candidates for our police and fire departments, fund needed training for our police, and potentially deliver a cost of living increase for LCG employees. Most importantly, it provides an opportunity to take these important steps, while strongly protecting the general fund and finances of the City of Lafayette.