Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration continued its fight in state appellate court Tuesday to get out from under a $17.5 million bill it allegedly owes to the city's firefighters pension fund for three years of underpayments.
Landrieu's attorney, Jim Garner, argued before a three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal that state law doesn't obligate the mayor to make certain monthly payments to the fund at the risk of toppling the city's already tight and fragile budget.
Because such payments must be budgeted by the City Council, they are therefore discretionary by nature, he said.
Louis Robein, attorney for the firefighters, disagreed, arguing that Landrieu and the council have no choice but to pay the full amount because the fund is governed by state law.
"This is the big Legislature telling the little Legislature what to do," Robein said.
The panel, comprised of judges Daniel Dysart, Terri Love and Sandra Cabrina Jenkins, could rule in a matter of days or weeks on whether Civil District Court Judge Robin Giarusso's March 28 order that the city must pay the $17.5 million should stand.
Stay with nola.com for a more detailed report later today.