Lafayette Consolidated Government will lay off 101, saving $403,000

Andrew Capps
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

Lafayette Consolidated Government will lay off 101 employees across seven facilities in response to budget woes due to coronavirus, Mayor-President Josh Guillory announced Friday.

“These necessary steps are the result of several weeks of meetings, discussions and explorations,” Guillory said in a release.

"We will continue to use this time to aggressively explore all lawful and ethical possibilities for the restoration of the services that these institutions provide to our people. At this time, we simply don’t know what the next six months will hold. We don’t know what the viability of mass entertainment venues and events will be," he added in a video statement.

The layoffs will affect 23 full-time workers and 78 part-time workers who serve Lafayette Consolidated Government’s Acadiana Nature Station, the Science Museum, its three senior centers and the Heymann Performing Arts Center, while six employees are being retained to maintain the security of those facilities while they are closed or operating at reduced capacity during the coronavirus pandemic.

Councilwoman Nanette Cook said she was told by the administration that the layoffs are expected to save $403,000 between now and Nov. 1 when next year's budget will go into effect.

The layoffs will take effect June 5.

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"I don’t take these steps lightly," Guillory said in a video statement. "I understand fully that they create difficult situations for our LCG families. As stated before, these are the first steps and there will likely be more."

Mayor President Josh Guillory speaking at press conference at City Hall in Lafayette, LA. Wednesday, May 20, 2020.

Some of those positions could be restored when the local government enters the next fiscal year on Nov. 1, according to LCG, but that will depend on reopening those facilities at full capacity and receiving additional funding from state and federal sources or a serious change in the government’s financial situation.

Employees affected by the layoffs will be eligible to be rehired under Lafayette Consolidated Government’s Civil Service Rules so that they can return to work quickly if the situation changes, and those who are currently eligible to retire will be allowed to do so with full benefits.

"In the meantime, we are working with the leaders of these entities to pursue additional options for outside funding that could be used to support the maintenance and operations of these facilities and services," Guillory said in a video statement. "These options could include naming rights, corporate or non-profit sponsorships, public-private partnerships, grant opportunities and crowdfunding campaigns."

Guillory said the city-parish government is reviewing the operating and capital budgets; has canceled discretionary contracts and budget line items; eliminated vacant positions; and is postponing or eliminating capital expenditures where appropriate. 

LCG spokesperson Jamie Angelle wasn't able to provide an estimate for how much the layoffs would save the local government Friday afternoon. The city of Lafayette was facing an $18 million budget deficit this year prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, which LCG Chief Financial Officer Lorrie Toups said could cause local tax revenues to drop by $10 million from budgeted expectations.

More:An extra $11 million Lafayette's budget should lessen blow of lost tax revenue

Lafayette Parish Council Chair Kevin Naquin said Friday that the layoffs are a product of poor decision making on the part of previous councils and administrations that have let tax rates drop considerably in the past two decades without planning for increased costs.

"We were already headed down this road; it’s been a long time coming, and COVID-19 just put the nail in the coffin," Naquin said. "With the decline in sales tax and the fact that previous councils and administrations have allow millages to roll down when they should have kept them higher because now raising taxes is not the answer. People don’t want that."

Read more:Lafayette sales drop $40 million; clothing stores, restaurants, bars hit hard

Cook said she understood Guillory's decision giving the current closure of LCG's three senior centers and the limited operational capacity of the other facilities.

"I can’t judge this decision as a bad one," Cook said. "We have to make some cuts and with these things because people are not going to Science Museum, or seniors centers, which are closed right now, so it maybe makes sense to let them go now and save the money and maybe think about bring some of them back in the new budget."

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