CENTRAL, LA (WAFB) - The Central City Council voted Tuesday to change the city government's shape, replacing the current council with five district seats and two at-large positions.
With a vote of three to two, the new setup will go into effect with the 2018 election cycle. Until then, the current five at-large member council will remain in place.
The vote was not without debate, including extensive division among members of the large public audience. Some took issue with the proposed district seats.
"I'd like to see us all, one committee with one goal for all of Central, instead of divvying us up and parceling us out," one woman said. "I think we need to be more unified."
Council members defended the new system, saying the at-large members will serve as a backup if those district representatives do not follow through.
"What if it's somebody I just don't get along with, I don't have a relationship with, that I can't call for service?" Councilman John Vance asked. "That's where the at-large comes in."
Another worry among some in the public was the cost of adding the two new seats. Estimates put the cost at around $18,000 total annually - $9,000 for each seat. That comes from a budget of around $8 million.
"I just don't think we need bigger government - that's a 40 percent increase," one public attendee stated.
"If I could add two more employees, bring two more brains to the table for $18,000, no benefits, no long-term commitment - that's a pretty good deal," said another.
Council members said the city is likely to grow in coming years, surpassing the 30,000 population mark. They said having additional council members will allow them to spread out the workload.
"I don't consider it to be more expensive, I consider it to be more efficient," Councilman Wayne Messina, who proposed the changes, said.
Before the 2018 change, the city will have to go about drawing district lines, a process which is projected to cost several thousand dollars.