Shelby County Commissioners debate municipal schools legal fees

Shelby County Commissioners debate municipal schools legal fees

(WMC-TV) -  Shelby County has watched the aftermath in the landmark ruling that found municipal schools unconstitutional, that includes at 2.5 million dollar legal bill that has local leaders speaking out.

The legal fees in this case are drawing mixed reaction from Shelby County Commissioners.
"Obviously this is a big number," said Shelby County Commissioner Mike Ritz. 

One thing everyone can agree upon is the lawsuit to block the Shelby County suburbs from forming its own municipal schools has been costly.

Wednesday's discussion to pay another half-million dollars to the Bearman law firm hired by the County Commission ended in finger pointing, with Commissioner Terry Roland upset about a $300 meeting he says is shrouded in secrecy.

"They said they didn't have it. They lied to me. I'm a client. People from District 4 are paying for this," said Shelby County Commissioner Terry Roland.

He is asking the U.S. Attorney to step in.

Commissioner Mike Ritz told the commission he ordered a redaction - to block out the description of what happened in an attorney-client meeting.

"I asked the attorneys to redact the bills to not show certain things in the bills. I did not want to give the other side the opportunity to know our witnesses and what we're going to be using them for," said Ritz. 

Meanwhile, Commissioner Henri Brooks said the mediation was a waste of taxpayer dollars.

"There was no gray area in my opinion. This was simply black and white," said Brooks.

Either way, Commissioner Melvin Burgess said a bill is a bill.

"It's time to pay for the services that were rendered and today we transferred funds to make sure we had funds to pay for the legal fees incurred," said Burgess. 

The legal fees must be approved by the full County Commission Monday.

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