Reported by Marty Briggs
23 of the state's 64 parishes operate under a form of home rule charter. A home rule charter provides for separate legislative and executive branches. An elected council handles legislative matters, while the elected parish president serves as administrator.
The home rule charter was an option offered local governments when the state of Louisiana adopted its new constitution in 1974. It was included in the state constitution at the insistence of local officials who felt the need to strengthen local governments throughout the state.
In 1983, Caddo parish initiated the only true council-administrator form of government currently operating in the state. While the Caddo organizational chart looks similar to that of a Police Jury with a manager, the role of the administrator differs significantly from that of the manager. The Caddo home rule charter clearly separates legislative and administrative functions. Although appointed by and serving at the pleasure of the council, the administrator has both the responsibility and authority to supervise parish operations.
City-parish consolidation is a system currently used by four metropolitan areas in the state, including Lafayette and New Orleans. Consolidated government is regarded as a more efficient way of running a metropolitan area.
It has a threefold objective: to eliminate duplication of governmental services; to increase governmental efficiency and to reduce costs.
For example, caring for roadways requires the same type of skilled employees and equipment, no matter if the roads are in the parish or the city. Therefore, having one department of public works instead of two is more cost effective.
Lafayette City/Parish president Joey Durel explains, "I would think the typical process would be going from a Police Jury form of government to a Home Rule Charter form of government. I think consolidation is inevitable because as people demand more from government but refuse to pay for it -- those demands -- the money is getting tighter, and tighter, and tighter at all levels of government. There's not a person out there, including myself, who wants to pay taxes, yet wants government to solve all the problems, and those two issues are impossible."