Posted: Jan 31, 2013 9:37 AM by AP
NEW IBERIA, La. (AP) - The city of New Iberia may have to begin collecting garbage at Housing Authority properties following a ruling by a state district judge.
Citing a 1950 cooperative agreement between the city and the New Iberia Housing Authority, the agency contends the city is responsible for collecting its tenants' solid waste just as they provide do for the rest of the city's residents. However, officials say that hasn't been done for the authority for some years.
Elton Broussard, the authority's executive director, said he's been at the agency for 18 years and the city has not provided collection services in that timeframe. Broussard said he looked at the contract when he became director and saw that the city was responsible for services, including garbage collection.
He said as a public entity, the housing authority is not like a typical apartment complex or business.
"We provide a service," Broussard said.
Last Thursday, District Judge Gerard Wattigny issued a summary judgment in favor of the housing agency's position in a lawsuit it filed against the city Jan. 9, 2012.
Mayor Hilda Curry said the city was not ready to comment on the outcome of the lawsuit and any repercussions because it will likely appeal the ruling.
According to court documents, the city argues that the wording of the cooperative agreement should be interpreted using definitions under its garbage collection contract, which would classify housing authority properties as multi-family or commercial and as a result would be excluded from the garbage contract.
However, Wattigny ruled that it was not appropriate to use definitions established more than 50 years after the agreement was made, saying service consistent with what's provided throughout the city would include curbside pickup service each week.
Broussard said the housing authority has three different sites for which the city could be responsible.