The fate of a security fee that bars in downtown Lafayette are required to pay will be up for debate at a City-Parish Council meeting next month.

A group of seven downtown bars has refused to pay the fee, calling it unconstitutional, and have taken it to court. The fee ranges from $150 to $5,000 per bar, depending on capacity.

Councilman Brandon Shelvin has proposed suspending the fee until its constitutionality can be determined.

The City-Parish Council started the fee in order to pay for police details to work downtown. The overtime bill from the police department has grown to $500,000, and if all bars paid the fee, about half that cost would be covered.

Bar owners believe the security fee is unconstitutional because it unfairly singles out one group of businesses to pay for a public service that should be a normal part of the police department's budget.

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