See Lafayette Consolidated Government workers laid off by Mayor-President Josh Guillory
The Lafayette Science Museum’s curators, the Acadiana Park Nature Station’s naturist and two senior center coordinators were among the 99 employees laid off by Lafayette Consolidated Government, records show.
A list of the laid-off employees obtained by The Daily Advertiser shows that the 99 workers made more than $828,000 in 2019. Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory announced last week the layoffs would affect 101 employees, but an LCG controller said this week a decision was made to retain two employees after the announcement.
All of the laid off employees are in LCG’s Department of Community Development. The layoffs affect the Acadiana Nature Station, the Science Museum, its three senior centers and the Heymann Performing Arts Center. 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.
"We're going to continue to look at every single department," Guillory said this week. "We'll continue to work with our directors to find ways to do more with less. And it's not always easy."
The information on layoffs did not include the specific facilities where the workers were employed, although some of that information was obtained from other sources. At least six of the layoffs came from the science museum, and at least seven came from the nature station. At least two were from senior care facilities.
The majority of the staff listed on the Lafayette Science Museum's website were affected, though the museum posted on Facebook that it is not closing permanently.
"But may be closed for some time as we work thru these COVID restrictions," according to the Facebook post. "However, we look forward to sharing some of our new exhibits with you when we open."
Glen Clark, who is listed as a museum curator on the document provided by LCG and lists "former exhibit curator at Lafayette Science Museum" on social media, posted on Facebook that news came as "a bit of a shock to say the least."
"But I’m ok with this," he wrote. "I guess the thing I find strange is that the reason I took the position in the first place, after being recruited for it, was because it was sold to me as a secure and stable city government job."
In a Facebook post Thursday, Guillory defended layoffs at the Heymann Center, saying "no one can responsibly say I took this action lightly, or because I don't understand or value the arts."
"I am committed to protecting the finances of the City of Lafayette," he said.
Guillory said the layoffs are estimated to save more than $400,000 this fiscal year, which runs through October. He said the city was already in a tight fiscal situation before the COVID-19 pandemic, with an expected $18 million budget deficit. With the coronavirus, the forecast shows an extra $10 million deficit, adding up to a $28 million shortfall.
"We will be broke and still spending way more than we're bringing in. It's a recipe for disaster," he wrote in his Facebook post. "I will not let this happen to our city. I will work on these issues diligently and I will do what is necessary, in concert with our city and parish councils to keep our city financially healthy and sustainable."
The layoffs take effect June 5.
Of the positions laid off, 77 were “temporary casual” or part-time workers. The remaining 22 were full-time employees. The part-time workers earned an average of $3,100 in 2019, and the full-time employees earned about $27,200 on average that year.
The three highest-paid positions were at the Lafayette Science Museum. The highest paid position was the planetarium curator at nearly $55,000 last year. The administrative assistant at the museum was second, at nearly $50,300. The collections curator was third with a 2019 salary of nearly $48,000.
Seven naturalists were laid off, including the nature station’s full-time naturalist. The full-time employee earned $10,400 in 2019, starting from early August when they were hired. The part-time naturalists made about $4,900 on average.
The two senior center coordinators made about $33,400 on average.
Other laid off positions include accounting clerks, janitors, laborers, technicians and security.
The longest-tenured employee was Dave Hostetter, the planetarium curator for the science museum who was hired in March of 1980. Hostetter's wife, Carla Lynn Shurr Hostetter, posted on Facebook that he can retire or take unemployment.
"He says he never thought his career would end this way, but he has two weeks to decide which way to go," she wrote.
More than 20 had worked for LCG for more than five years.
Guillory has said it’s possible some of these positions will be added back if the fiscal situation improves for the new fiscal year, which begins Nov. 1. The laid off employees would be eligible to be rehired under LCG’s Civil Service Rules so 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.
Guillory also has floated the idea of public-private partnerships to fund the entities that are impacted by the layoffs.
"Let's entertain the ideas of what a public-private partnership looks like," Guillory said Tuesday. "Let's think of ideas for foundations and associations that can help. Let's see what the demand is in the community, and let's see if we can find ways — philanthropic ways — to come in here and fund these things that are not on the back of the taxpayers."
Guillory also praised Director of Community Development Hollis Conway for being a "very outside-the-box think, conceptual thinker."
In recent days, Guillory has advocated for relief money to go to small businesses instead of local governments, saying he thinks keeping businesses running would have a greater long-term impact on government revenues.
He sent a letter to legislative leaders asking them to use part of the $1.8 billion allocated to Louisiana as part of federal coronavirus relief to help small businesses that haven’t received other federal aid, such as the Paycheck Protection Program.
His request is similar to his plan to provide $1 million in grants to small businesses that have not been able to secure federal aid. Social and nonprofit groups had asked for some of that money to cover costs of additional COVID-19 testing and help for people who lost income.
- Accounting clerk: 9
- Accounting specialist: 1
- Administrative assistant: 1
- Assistant curator: 1
- Cashier: 1
- Clerk III: 1
- Clerk typist: 2
- Event labor I: 2
- Event labor II: 6
- Event labor III: 13
- Event laborer III: 3
- Event supervisor II: 3
- Exhibit guide: 3
- Group sales coordinator: 1
- Janitor: 2
- Labor foreman I: 2
- Laborer II: 8
- Museum and planetarium technician: 1
- Museum curator: 3
- Naturalist: 7
- Production technician: 1
- Receptionist: 1
- Security I: 18
- Security II: 3
- Senior center coordinator: 2
- Stage technician II: 3
- Stage technician III: 1