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City-county lawsuit appears on way to settlement
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The lawsuit between the city and county over the local option sales tax may be close to a conclusion if a resolution included in the packet for Monday’s meeting of the Warren County Commission is any indication.A cover letter to county commissioners from County Executive John Pelham attached to the resolution points to an agreement between the litigants, although Pelham and other county officials remain close-mouthed about whether this is the case, due to a gag order placed by Judge J.B. Cox on the proceedings.In fact, Pelham was cautious with the language in the letter, noting that “County legal counsel has advised my office that a proposed Settlement Agreement may be ready to be considered at the November session of County Court.”At issue is approximately $2 million in revenue the county receives each year from the portion of the local option sales tax pledged to the county by the city in 1969 when the county agreed to take over operation of all the schools in the county and assumed debt owed by the city on previous school construction projects.The city and county, and their legal representatives, have met in two judicial settlement conferences this year, one March 9, and the other Oct. 11.Both the city and the county went into executive session to discuss the issue at their October meetings subsequent to the most recent mediation, thus excluding the public and the media. As a result, the particulars of the agreement are still unknown.However, since it is illegal to vote on these types of issues in executive session, the agreement will have to be voted on in open court, at which point the details become public record.Despite the secrecy, speculation is the county will agree to some sort of structured settlement with the city in an effort to end the litigation. Both the city and county will have to vote to approve any such agreement before it goes into effect.The city held a special called meeting last night, but reportedly did not plan to vote on the agreement.