Lafayette Consolidated Government appears ready to follow through with City-Parish President Joey Durel’s desire to sever relationships with the city of Broussard.
According to the smaller Lafayette Parish municipality, LCG is declining to renew a $40,000 contract with Broussard to provide fire protection to unincorporated parts of Broussard. The southeast parish city learned the news this week when Broussard Fire Chief Bryan Champagne contacted his counterpart in Lafayette, Chief Robert Benoit. Champagne is assuring residents in unincorporated Lafayette Parish that Broussard will respond to calls in their area.
Amy Jones, a Lafayette-based publicist who is representing Broussard in its ongoing public-relations battle with Durel and LCG, accuses Durel and consolidated government of risking public safety to grind an ax: ““We cannot continue to play games with public safety and put citizens in the unincorporated areas at risk,” Jones says. “The city of Broussard will continue responding as long as it can, but the city of Lafayette’s refusal to sign this contract will eventually lead to less fire protection in the unincorporated areas. The State Fire Marshall has included language that should satisfy the risk management requirements for Lafayette Consolidated Government. That contract should be signed and the funds released for the protection of Lafayette Parish citizens.”
Durel announced earlier this month that he has instructed department heads in LCG to research how consolidated government can go about severing ties with Broussard, starting with Lafayette Utility System’s wholesale water contract with Broussard, a contract LUS accuses Broussard of breaching by bypassing meters and essentially stealing extra water from Lafayette to meet the needs of its growing community.
We spoke to Durel late Friday evening by phone. He confirmed the report about the fire contract and said that while Lafayette has similar arrangements for rural fire protection with the four other smaller municipalities in the parish, those towns "have not sued the hand that feeds them," a reference to lawsuits Broussard has filed against the city of Lafayette challenging annexations in south Lafayette Parish.
But Durel added, "We care a lot about the people of Broussard, as we do everyone in the parish."
Read more on the tension between Durel and Langlinais here.