Several bars in downtown Lafayette have stopped paying a security levy to help fund police patrols to keep weekend crowds in check, setting the stage for a battle over the legality of the special fee.

Lafayette City-Parish Officials say that half of the 16 bars owe about $38,000.

A three-day liquor-license suspension was ordered effective Nov. 10 through Nov. 13 for five of the bars that have not paid the fee in three months or more.

The bars have now appealed to the City-Parish Council, putting the suspensions on hold while bar owners come together to mount a legal challenge to the security fee.

Attorney Daniel Stanford, who represents five downtown bars in the dispute, says the fee is unconstitutional.