Dec 21, 2011 12:33 AM by Maddie Garrett

LCG: No Opt-Out for Smart Meters; Downtown Bar Levy Stays

Lafayette Consolidated Government voted on two controversial issues at Tuesday night's meeting. The first big decision was a motion to eliminate an smart meters opt-out plan for LUS customers. The second vote centered on the controversial bar levy, which ended in a tie, ultimately keeping the levy in place.

Several citizens came forward at the meeting to protest the smart meters and ask for an option to opt-out and not have them installed in their homes. It was a heated discussion as the council, Lafayette Utilities Systems and homeowners went back and forth on whether or not to allow people to opt-out of the smart meters, and if so, should there be a charge for those who choose to keep the old meters?

In the end, the council had decided to allow people to opt-out with a $6 monthly fee. But the LPUA voted the ordinance down and so the smart meters will go into all homes, and there will be no opt-out plan. The result got mixed reactions.

"I think this is a really good move to take the parish an Lafayette into the future," said Simon Haymin, a Lafayette resident.

Those opposed to the smart meters cited safety concerns and invasion of privacy issues.

"They're supposed to work for us but they don't. It's a quagmire of confusion and I'm very disappointed," said Lafayette resident Ray Green.

The second issue was the downtown bar levy imposed on bar owners to pay for additional police detail downtown.

Council member Brandon Shelvin proposed an ordinance that would do away with the bar levy, saying it targets a certain kind of business and is unconstitutional.

After a lengthy discussion the council was split right down the middle on the vote. It ended in a tie, ultimately killing the proposal and keeping the bar levy in place.

"It can't be staffed with our current on duty resources without resulting in a loss of services to other areas, so right now this is the only way to do it is to pay additional officers to come out and work the detail for that area," said Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft.

But Shelvin said after the meeting that the fight isn't over yet. He hopes to bring up the issue again in the new year, when new council members take office. He also said that several business owners downtown are also taking the matter to federal court.

"If a business wants private security then they need to pay for it. But as far as what we are mandated as a government to do to provide public safety, no business in America should pay for that and no business is, except here in Lafayette," said Shelvin.



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