Apr 4, 2012 12:32 AM by Jim Hummel
By a unanimous vote, the Lafayette City-Parish Council approved an ordinance which will temporarily suspend the downtown bar levy, until a lawsuit on the issue is resolved in federal court.
"The ordinance is predicated upon when a judge in the United States Western District of Louisiana, determines whether or not this [fee] is unconstitutional or not," said Councilman Brandon Shelvin, who proposed the suspension.
Since 2009, LCG has charged downtown bars a security levy to help pay for added police presence on the weekends. That monthly fee ranges from $150 to $5,000, per bar, depending on its capacity.
At least seven downtown bars have filed suit, challenging the constitutionality of the fee. Although unavailable for comment Tuesday night, in the past, lawyers representing those bars have argued the fee is unconstitutional, and their clients should not be singled out to pay for a public service.
In light of the suspension, the Lafayette Police Department will continue to provide an added presence downtown on the weekends. Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft says the department is at budget for the current fiscal year, but he'll need to request more funding, if the suspension holds into next year.
"The department does not have the on-duty resources available to be able to provide those services," said Craft. "[We] need that public safety presence and we want to continue to be able to provide those services."
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