Council debates big money to settle lawsuit

We were the only news crew on the fifth floor of city hall as council members met with their attorney behind closed doors Tuesday. They were discussing whether to spend $350,000 of your tax dollars to help settle a lawsuit with FedExForum sub-contractor Morgan & Thornburg.

"I have been very skeptical about the whole process and really not excited about having to pay another dime," says councilwoman Barbara Swearengen Holt.

But she and others believe long term litigation could end up costing much more.

"You know, we don't want to spend any more of the taxpayers money," says councilman Rickey Peete. "However, this is a situation where either you pay now or later and if you pay later you pay a lot more," he adds.

"Litigation costs in large construction cases can be very costly," says city attorney Sara Hall.

She says costs could run in the millions and adds the settlement agreement won't work unless all parties involved pony up. They hope county officials will see things the same way.

"I would think it would be in the best interest of citizens to find the best deal most of us can agree on even if it's not exactly what you want," says council president Tajuan Stout Mitchell.

Council members with whom we spoke hope their part will be behind them by the first meeting in February.

Tuesday's meeting did not include all council members. Objections to this settlement agreement are certainly possible. In fact, Shelby County Commissioners decided to "put off" a decision Monday on their share after several concerns were raised.