Tentative deal reached in Lafayette, Broussard dispute

LAFAYETTE — Years of bad blood and legal wrangling between Lafayette and Broussard could soon be coming to an end.

A tentative agreement has been reached to resolve lawsuits Broussard filed against Lafayette over a wholesale water contract and annexation issues, as well as Lafayette’s countermove to cut services that city-parish government had been providing to Broussard, according to a joint announcement from the two cities.

City-Parish President Joey Durel said in an email Monday that no one involved will comment publicly on the agreement until it has been formalized.

He offered no time frame for when that might happen.

Broussard officials had proposed earlier that leaders from the two cities sit down with a third-party mediator to resolve the legal disputes, but it was unclear whether mediation is part of the recent agreement.

Broussard has two pending lawsuits against Lafayette.

One challenges Lafayette’s annexation of more than 200 acres along Ambassador Caffery South in an area between the two cities, and the other seeks to recoup more than half of a $825,587 bill that Broussard paid Lafayette Utilities System under protest.

Broussard has its own water system, but that system does not produce enough water to serve the entire city. As a result, Broussard buys some of its water wholesale from LUS, which is owned by Lafayette.

LUS officials had alleged that a bypassed meter on a wholesale water connection allowed Broussard to receive millions of gallons of water for free and sent the smaller city a bill for $825,587.

Broussard paid the money, but the city’s leaders said they had no idea the meter had been bypassed and that far less water flowed to Broussard than was alleged by LUS.

In response to the lawsuits, Lafayette moved to halt services to the neighboring city.

In December, the Lafayette Public Utilities Authority, a board of five City-Parish Council members who oversee LUS, authorized the administration to deny all requests for additional water service from Broussard.

Lafayette also ended animal control services that city-parish government had provided in Broussard and had threatened to stop providing fire dispatch services to the smaller city.

Durel has said repeatedly that those services would remain intact if Broussard dropped its lawsuits against Lafayette.

The tentative agreement between Broussard and Lafayette would resolve the lawsuits and ensure that Broussard will continue to receive various services from Lafayette, according to a joint statement from the two cities.