Schools lawsuit costing suburbs a fortune - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Schools lawsuit costing suburbs a fortune

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

As more federal litigation looms in November, Shelby County suburban taxpayers are finding themselves caught up a "double whammy" of skyrocketing legal fees. One Shelby County commissioner says he thinks people have had enough paying to resolve the school merger issue.

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The billable hours are piling up for lawyers on both sides of the school merger federal lawsuit fight. The hefty fees are prompting the Shelby County Commission to dig deeper into their taxpayer paid contingency fund.

Commissioners were supplied with a report from county attorney Kelly Rayne upon the request of Commissioner Terry Roland. The invoice listed the commission as owing, as of Sept. 12, more than $215,000. However, the report contained 32 redactions assumed to be of a legal nature.

After seeing the numbers, the budget and finance committee voted to transfer $800,000 to a legal fees fund pending further litigation costs. Add those figures to the hundreds of thousands already spent by the six suburbs in legal fees seeking to create their own municipal school districts.

Roland says his constituents and others he's talked to are saying enough is enough.

"The judge said we're going to merge the schools," he said. "All right. The suburbs say they want their schools. Somehow they can work this out without making Baker-Donelson even more richer than they already are."

All sides in the merger lawsuit must have their final proof in the case filed by Thursday for Judge Samuel Hardy Mays. Mays will then rule in a written decision on whether the state law that opened the door for municipal school district is constitutional.

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