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Commission to pay attorneys’ fees from ordinance lawsuit

By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal

The Lowndes County Commission voted to pay attorneys’ fees in connection with an injunction that stopped a business license tax on professional from going into effect, Monday.

Henry Sanders reported that Lowndes County Circuit Court Judge Edward McFerrin ordered the payment of attorney fees to Jerry Thornton ($9,511) and Randy Bozeman ($4,750).

The lawsuit concerned the passage of a business license tax that included professionals (doctors and lawyers), according to Sanders.

He said apparently the statute did not allow it to include professionals, and when the county learned of the mistake they rescinded the action.

Commissioner Robert Harris said the tax was removed before the attorneys began.

“That is greed at it’s best,” he said.

When contacted for comment, Thornton said, “If anyone says they (the commission) rescinded it (the ordinance) before the lawsuit was filed, that is just incorrect.”

The commission voted to pay the fees subject to payment by the county’s insurance on a 3-1 vote with Commissioner Robert Harris abstaining. Commissioner Marzett Thomas was absent.

Voting in favor were Commission Chairman Charlie King Jr. and Commissioners W. Dickson Farrior and Commissioner Joseph Barganier.

Following an insurance representative recommendation, the commission voted to send letters to county employees to report tickets given to them in any vehicle they drive, county or personal.

The commission also expressed concerns over a water bill from the Town of Hayneville that reflected a 160,000-gallon usage difference.

The commission went into executive session to discuss good name and character, but took no action.

Regarding the consent agenda, commissioners voted to:
* Allow juvenile program staff to attend the National Youth Conference.
*Contract with First Citizen Bank paying direct deposit fee of $50 per month, subject to the waiving of fees.
*Contract with the state for a rabies person to issue citation for dog shots.
*Allocate discretionary funds of $2,125.

Harris requested the removal of an ADEM agreement from the consent agreement for the cleanup of dump sites. He wanted the matter revisited to see if the county could do that work.

The consent agenda passed 3-1 with King abstaining.

Harris pointed out erosion problem in a pipe off Mayberry Road off 80.

Regarding the planned demolition of an old church on 37, Harris wanted the site checked for a cemetery.

Dr. Barrett Vaughham an extension specialist and assistant professor at Tuskegee University, told the commission about an effort planned to inform county residents on the safe operation of certified septic systems and who to contact for services to those systems.

He also wanted to educate residents on ways to save energy at home.