A court hearing is set for Friday on 15th Judicial District Attorney Keith Stutes’ effort to block the Lafayette City-Parish Council from voting next week on a roughly $650,000 cut in funding for the District Attorney’s Office.
The hearing comes in a lawsuit Stutes filed in May asking for a judge to order city-parish government to pay the money.
The central issues are set to be argued in court later this month; in the meantime, Stutes asked a judge to bar the council from taking a scheduled Tuesday vote on the budget cut, which would halt city-parish government’s payment of salaries and benefits for several District Attorney’s Office employees and could raise the specter of job losses.
The District Attorney’s Office and city-parish government have been feuding for several months, and some city-parish council members say local government simply doesn’t have the money to pay the bills anymore.
The issue first arose soon after Stutes took off in 2015.
His predecessor, former District Attorney Mike Harson, for several years had been paying more than $600,000 in reimbursements to city-parish government to cover personnel expenses.
Stutes argues city-parish government is required under state law to fund the expenses of his office, and he has stopped paying the reimbursement.
That prompted some council members to propose cutting funding for all the expenses that previously had been reimbursed.
The request to block council action on the budget measure initially was set for a court hearing on Wednesday, but the hearing was postponed until Friday because the lead attorney for city-parish government had a conflict.
The case is being heard by state Judge Dennis Waldron, an ad hoc judge brought in from outside the area because all local judges recused themselves from hearing a case that also might impact similar city-parish funding issues for judicial expenses.