Lafayette

Nov 10, 2011 11:32 PM by Shawn Kline

Downtown bar suspensions on hold for Tuesday hearing

Several Lafayette bar owners say they plan to appeal a suspension put in place after they didn't pay police for security.
Two bar owners have already filed a federal lawsuit, but City-Parish Attorney Mike Hebert says he expects that to be withdrawn.

The issue is over the downtown police levy that helps pay for officers working overtime while on the downtown detail.
Some bars are now racking up $40,000 in unpaid fines because they say police detail should be a public service.

"We're not trying to fight it or anything." Bar owner, David Lawson says, "but we just want to make sure it's constitutional and fair to everybody."
Lawson's bar, Bootleggers hasn't paid for the police levy since August, racking up more $3,000 in late fees.

"It was the only way to get heard." Lawson says, "then it became an issue and now it's going to be dealt with."

"(The levy) like a citizen saying we have to pay a certain tax because I live in this area and the crime rate is so high," Councilman Brandon Shelvin said. "That's not how it works."

Councilman Shelvin is currently drafting an amendment to revoke the downtown police levy but before that happens, five bars downtown have to appeal suspensions at a council meeting on Tuesday.

"We ought to be finding other solutions to these problems rather than putting the burden on these business owners," Shelvin said.

Lafayette Police say no matter how this plays out, whether in council or in the courts, they will still need to provide a safe environment downtown.

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