New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu is facing house arrest unless he comes up with a way to pay city firefighters $75 million in back wages.
Civil District Judge Kern Reese held Landrieu in contempt of court on Friday morning. He says the mayor has one week to come up with a workable payment plan.
The contempt order stems from a decades-long legal battle centered on state-mandated raises for local firefighters.
Landrieu took issue with the ruling. "Before I decimate our city’s budget, before I stop the street repairs that we’re making, stop filling potholes, turn off the street lights — before I lay off firefighters and police and city employees — I am prepared to stay under house arrest for the next two years of my term.”
Landrieu says he’s offered viable reimbursement plans to the firefighters union. The latest offer would have satisfied the $75 million judgment by paying $15 million upfront.
The balance would be stretched out over the next three decades.
According to Nola.com, the union says that proposal ignores tens of millions of dollars in interest owed to firefighters, and that it would take too long to pay out.
If Landrieu does not have a payment plan in place by Sept. 11, the mayor will have to spend his weekends at home under house arrest until the matter is settled.