DA’s funding, tax election limits on council agenda

Keith Stutes, district attorney for the 15th Judicial District, addresses the Acadiana Press Club in this Advertiser file photo. (Photo: Daily Advertiser file photo)

(The Daily Advertiser) – Two items of note on Tuesday’s Lafayette City-Parish Council agenda: A probable vote to cut funding to the district attorney’s office and a possible new policy limiting tax elections.

An agreement was reached June 3 to allow the council to proceed with a vote on whether to cut more than $1 million from the district attorney’s office because of a severe decline in parish sales taxes and because District Attorney Keith Stutes refuses to reimburse the parish for salaries and other expenses his predecessor paid.

Stutes cites Louisiana law that requires local government to pay the expenses of his office. Lafayette Consolidated Government officials say the DA’s office is to be paid with parish revenue, not city of Lafayette revenue, which are held in separate accounts per the Home Rule Charter that created LCG.

Stutes sued LCG in May over the matter. At a hearing June 3, all parties agreed to let the council vote Tuesday on whether to fund the DA’s office. Either way, other matters associated with the lawsuit will be heard in court June 14.

Also on Tuesday’s agenda is a resolution by Councilman William Theriot adopting a new policy for tax elections.

The resolution states that a recent parish-wide tax election that was the only item on the ballot on a special election date cost taxpayers $120,000 and only 2.5 percent of registered voters cast ballots.

Such elections are costly and lead to low voter turnout, the resolution states.

If the policy is adopted, tax elections would be held on the same date as a general election. A resolution is not a binding law. The council can only urge other taxing bodies in the parish to follow the policy.

The council meets at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at city hall, 705 W. University Ave.

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