by Madeline Pyle with Gary Bridgman / Featured image: Independence County Judge Robert Griffin
At last night’s meeting, the Independence County Quorum Court discussed a motion to pursue a lawsuit against the city of Batesville to satisfy the city’s unpaid jail fees.
Ultimately, in a 7-3 vote, the court voted to allow County Attorney Daniel Haney one more month to collect data and continue negotiations with the city before considering litigation.
“This is a step in the right direction,” said Haney. “Litigation is costly.”
The vote was about the city of Batesville refusing to pay what the county considers as “their fair share” for operating the Independence County Detention Facility. In other words, the county is saying the city should pay for the prisoners it sends to the county for incarceration.
Before the vote, Haney reported that he met with Batesville Mayor Rick Elumbaugh and Batesville City Attorney Tim Meitzen to discuss the “next steps,” and they agreed to collect data on the jail housing fees.
One of the five justices representing some form of the city, Jonathan Abbott, motioned for the court to allow Haney to continue collecting data and negotiating with the city. “We need to act on the truth according to the fact,” Abbott told White River Now.
That motion did not pass because other members stated they wanted a “deadline.”
Justice of the Peace Kenny Hurley then motioned for the court to pursue a lawsuit against the city, but did not get a second.
“The taxpayers of Independence County are suffering,” said Hurley.
Discussion ensued before the court passed the motion to give Haney the month’s time for more data collection and negotiations.
When the members voted, another JP, Tammy Pearce, said she was “tired” of the county-versus-city conflict and wanted to “vote for a solution.” Pearce voted against the motion because of the deadline stipulation.
“It would behoove us to allow Daniel to continue the discussions he is having with the city,” Pearce told White River Now this afternoon.
When asked, Haney confirmed he could complete his data collection in the month.
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In other news, the court approved a resolution declaring a vacancy in the office of Justice of the Peace District 7, due to Justice of the Peace Anna King’s resignation.
King accepted Judge Robert Griffin’s offer to say a few words, where she tearfully proclaimed her love for the county and said she hoped the person filling her seat would be as “loud” as she is.
Justice of the Peace Brad Covington was absent from court.
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