LAFAYETTE — Lafayette city-parish government has stopped providing animal control services for the city of Broussard in a dispute over annexations in southern Lafayette Parish.
City-Parish President Joey Durel announced earlier this year that he wanted to end the animal control contract and possibly other contractual services if Broussard declined to drop a lawsuit challenging Lafayette’s annexation of more than 200 acres in southern Lafayette Parish.
Broussard has declined to drop the lawsuit, and city-parish government let the animal control contract expire effective Wednesday.
“They made a choice,” Durel said of Broussard officials. “... The choice was we would rather sue you than use the services.”
Durel said that “no city has an obligation to do business with another city” and that Lafayette reserves the right to deny services for cities that are not considered good neighbors.
Broussard Mayor Charles Langlinais issued a statement last week calling for the contract to be extended so as not to put the “public at risk” for lack of response to dog and cat complaints.
Broussard officials are petitioning to have the Lafayette City-Parish Council take up the issue, a move that could possibly force the administration’s hand.
Councilman William Theriot, who represents part of the Broussard area, said Thursday that he plans to bring the contract before the council for approval.
“If they (Broussard) are willing to pay for it like all the other municipalities, I think it’s fine,” Theriot said.
As a back-up, Broussard is working with St. Martin Parish government on a possible animal-control contract with that parish, Broussard spokeswoman Amy Jones said.
A portion of Broussard is in St. Martin Parish.
Broussard plans to contract with St. Martin Parish for animal control on a call-by-call basis until the issue is resolved, Jones said.
Broussard had been paying Lafayette about $52,000 per year for animal control services.
Similar agreements remain in place between Lafayette and other smaller municipalities in the parish.
The end of the contract between Broussard and Lafayette comes in a lingering dispute between officials in the two cities, and the relationship between Durel and Langlinais has been strained for several years.
A key point of contention is Lafayette’s annexations along the new southern stretch of Ambassador Caffery Parkway, which runs between Broussard and its larger neighbor.
Some of Lafayette’s annexations took in property that is owned by Lafayette but had not been within the city’s boundaries, but other annexations took in acreage from property owners that Broussard argues sought to be annexed by Broussard instead of Lafayette.
The tensions between the two cities escalated quickly last year when Lafayette Utilities System officials discovered a bypassed wholesale water meter that allowed Broussard to receive millions of gallons for free.
Broussard has its own water system, but that system does not produce enough water to serve the city, so Broussard buys water wholesale from LUS and then sells the water to its residents and businesses.
Broussard officials have maintained that they do not know how the meter was bypassed, but they paid a disputed $825,587 bill to LUS under protest.
Broussard then filed a lawsuit to force Lafayette to refund much of that payment.
Durel said in May that he would seek to end Lafayette’s contract with Broussard to provide wholesale water if the lawsuit were not dropped, but he said Thursday that he plans to wait until the courts resolve the issue.
“The law and mathematics will get us to the right answer,” he said.
As part of the litigation over the water bill, city-parish government has asked a judge to declare that Broussard has breached its water contract with LUS.
A favorable ruling would open the door for Lafayette to end water service to Broussard or to renegotiate the contract.