AG says EPPJ can do work inside Ville Platte
The Evangeline Parish Police Jury is allowed, under the state Constitution, to donate the use of public equipment and personnel for work to be done inside the corporate limits of Ville Platte, according to an opinion from Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office.
While the two entities can enter into such an agreement, the police jury is not allowed to donate the equipment used to do the work and cannot purchase any of the materiels or supplies. Those materials and supplies must be purchased by the city.
The attorney general opinion was received following a request from the Evangeline District Attorney’s Office. Assistant District Attorney Marcus Fontenot cited, in the letter, confusion over a recently adopted constitutional amendment. The amendment, in part, states, “Nothing in this Section shall prevent, pursuant to a written agreement, the donation of the use of public equipment and personnel by a political subdivision upon request to another political subdivision for an activity or function the requesting political subdivision is authorized to exercise.”
Fontenot’s letter went on to say, “This amendment seems to contradict a previous Attorney General opinion that a police jury cannot waive reimbursement from a municipality for the amount of a project that should be paid for by a municipality.”
In its opinion the attorney general’s office cited the Louisiana Supreme Court decision in the case of Board of Directors of the Industrial Development Board of the City of Gonzales, Louisiana, Inc. v. All Taxpayers, Property Owners, Citizens of City of Gonzales, et al (Cabela’s). The court found, according to the AG opinion, “a prohibited donation occurs ‘when public funds or property are gratuitously alienated.’”
Following the court’s decision, the attorney general has consistently found “in order for the alienation of public funds, property, or things of value, to be permissible under the Constitution, the public entity must have the legal authority to make the expenditure and must show:
a public purpose of the expenditure or transfer that comports with the governmental purpose for which the the public entity has legal authority to pursue;
that the expenditure or transfer, taken as a whole, does not appear to be gratuitous; and
that the public entity has a demonstrable, objective, and reasonable expectation of receiving at least something of value in exchange for the expenditure or transfer of public funds.”
Evangeline Parish Police Jury President Ryan “Leday” Williams, who represents a portion of Ville Platte said, “If I can assist anyone, I will do so no matter if the constituent is in my district or in another juror’s district. This is why I love and take pride in being a public servant.