A Lafayette council member has proposed to slash the Lafayette City Marshal’s personnel budget by 25 percent and transfer the allocations to the city police department.
Bruce Conque suggested the change, which would cut funding for five of the office’s 20 deputies — during a Monday afternoon budget hearing for Lafayette Consolidated Government.
Pope objected to the proposition and confronted Conque, who has been a vocal about his concerns with funding the marshal’s office since last year’s budget hearings. He asked why Conque hadn’t visited the office in his capacity on the police-council liaison committee.
“Obviously, you’ve taken this very personal,” Pope said. “I encouraged you to come see what we do starting last year when you started all this mess, so would you like to explain what the problem is with that?”
Conque told Pope that the City Marshal’s Office is not a police department, so he doesn’t fall under the committee’s operations.
“They have you down as our liaison,” Pope responded.
Conque asked if Pope had ever asked to be placed on the committee’s agenda. Pope started to repeat that he had invited Conque to visit his office, and Conque interrupted.
“I asked, have you asked to be placed on the agenda for liaison?” Conque asked.
“No, sir,” Pope responded.
“Thank you,” Conque said.
“Make it a little bit more obvious, sir,” Pope told Conque, then left the meeting.
It’s unclear what he meant.
Conque said his main concern is that the marshal’s office is not a part of LCG.
It’s an argument Pope has used as a defense in both the civil and ongoing criminal cases that have marked his first term in office, both of which stemmed from emails sent to and from his LCG-operated email account.
Conque said his proposition is support by opinions from the city attorney. Council members Jared Bellard and Liz Webb Hebert asked to see copies of those opinions.
Conque also said that Pope’s office has about $800,000 in self-generated funds that it can used to support operations should LCG reduce funding.
That revenue comes from certain services the Marshal’s Office performs. Pope and his predecessor Nicky Picard had both used some of that money to double their six-figure incomes, but an Attorney General opinion earlier this year stated the money must be used for the office’s operations.
Pope is awaiting trial on a seven-count felony indictment in state district court on allegations he used his position and public funds for political purposes. Trial is set to begin Sept. 24.