Lafayette Parish To Write $3.4 Million Check To Waste Facilities
A federal lawsuit filed against Lafayette Consolidated Government is being settled out of court over the development of a waste transfer facility on Sunbeam Lane.
Lafayette City-Parish President Joey Durel says the $3.4 million check has been delivered to Waste Facilities of Lafayette Wednesday afternoon.
It's a "good news/bad news" situation, according to Durel. While "the money did not come from the general fund" it will be taken from the Mosquito Abatement Fund, a millage passed about 8 years ago by the voters. Durel says:
When you pay a millage towards something, it must go towards that.
Durel says they could never touch that millage in order to fix roads and bridges and were looking at reducing that millage by a vote of the people and to rededicate those funds to use for something else. "It's the least harmful place for us to take money from the parish... Remember, this is a parishwide issue, not a city issue."
The lawsuit stems from a 2011 unanimous vote by Lafayette City-Parish Council to block the planned garbage transfer station in the northern portion of Lafayette. This legally permitted facility was to be in Councilman Brandon Shelvin's District. He spearheaded the effort to have the vote, while Waste Facilities had already began their process and work on the 16-acre site. The vote barred the company from using the site for leasing to garbage company IESI. Their lawsuit seeked to recover damages for lost business and money that they had already spent on the project.
Shelvin also mentioned that the facility would have cost between $3-$4 million if it had been completed.
But that vote for Shelvin's ordinance, Durel says, had language in it pertaining to insects, among other things. Durel says this gave them the ability to go to the Mosquito Abatement Fund to pay off this settlement:
By taking it from there (Mosquito Abatement Fund) it causes us the least amount of pain but it also causes the councilmen the least amount of consequences.
You may remember that Durel disagreed with the council's vote at the time.
Councilman Keith Patin says this whole process was a "no win situation" and one that he would not want to have to go through again:
It's unfortunate in doing our job that it brought about this situation...In the course of us doing our job, in the way that we felt we had to, it did result in a situation where it wasn't just going to be for free, that there was going to be a cost associated with that.
Patin went on to cite the issues that the Council had to consider in their vote: property that wasn't actually incorporated into the city, future projects not getting yanked after they've gotten started and the general public's worry and need for help in dealing with something they perceived as being grievous against their subdivision or area.
When asked if he still stands by his vote in 2011, Patin said:
It was a hard vote. It was one of the hardest things I've come across. I feel for both sides. I think there is merit on both sides. I wouldn't want to have to cross the bridge again."
KPEL's Bernadette Lee and Brandon Comeaux contributed to this story.