Tuesday, 19 April 2011 09:33
Last week circuit judges in Jackson County recused themselves from cases concerning the Jackson County Commission’s complaint against the Jackson County Legislative Delegation requesting a Declaratory Judgment and Injunctive Relief in the Circuit Court.The filing of the complaint came after a closed meeting when both parties failed to reach an agreement on how the TVA in-lieu-of-tax money should be used. A motion was passed by the commission to file a complaint seeking to freeze the Jackson County’s Legislative Delegation’s Emergency Fund.
In recent weeks Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange declined to give an opinion regarding constitutionality of the existing Local Act 88-292 and 99-550.
The Complaint stated that no allegation is made or suggested of any impropriety, misuse or misappropriation of public funds by the Defendant as a group or any individual member of the Legislative Delegation.
The Complaint also stated there is a justiciable controversy regarding the constitutionality and legality of Local Acts 88-292 and 99-550 and asked the courts to declare both Acts unconstitutional and otherwise illegal and unenforceable.
The court was also asked to determine whether or not and by what method the Legislative Delegation or any other party receiving a distribution from the Legislative Delegation was required to reimburse or repay those funds disbursed by mistake from the TVA in-lieu-of-tax payments made to Jackson County.
The Complaint also asked the court to issue a temporary restraining order to keep the Legislative Delegation from expending any funds from all accounts presently under its control other than for necessary office expenditures from the Office Operating Account.
An injunctive relief was asked to be granted requiring the funds be held by the Legislative Delegation in any other account other than the Office Operating Account be repaid to the Jackson County Commission or in the alternative to be paid to the Clerk of Circuit Court in an interest bearing account.
Additionally, the commission asked to be reimbursed the amounts paid in the 2010-2011 fiscal year totaling $1,419,530.67 that the Legislative Delegation received by mistake from the TVA in-lieu-of-tax payments received by Jackson County.
Following the filing of the complaint, the Jackson County Legislative Delegation, consisting of Senator Shadrack McGill, Rep. John Robinson and Rep. Wayne Johnson announced that they will introduce a bill in the 2011 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature to provide for the distribution of TVA in-lieu-of-tax payments. If passed the Act will repeal Act 79-473 and Act 99-550.
If passed, payments will be distributed as follows:
1. Four (4) percent to equip and maintain the Jackson County Legislative Delegation Office for the members of the delegation.
2. Thirty-nine and two-thirds (39 ⅔) percent to the public school systems in the county on a per pupil basis.
3. Twenty-nine and two-thirds (29 ⅔) percent to the incorporated municipalities in the county on a population basis.
4. Twenty-five and two-thirds (25 ⅔) percent to the general fund of the county to be disbursed at the direction of the committee created pursuant to Section 2.
4(b). All growth in TVA in-lieu-of-tax payments received since October 1999 by the county over the previous year’s payments disbursed pursuant to ACT 79-473 and Act 99-550 which have not been distributed on the effective date of the act shall be paid into a contingency fund in the county treasury and disbursed at the direction of the committee created by Section 2.
Section Two will create a Discretionary Fund Committee to the purpose of distributing the TVA In-lieu-of-taxes payments disbursed to Jackson County. The committee will be comprised of two members who are Jackson County residents appointed by the senator representing Jackson County, and one member appointed by each of the House of Representative members representing Jackson County.
The members appointed by the representatives must be a resident of the legislative district of the appointing house member. The committee’s term limits will run concurrently with the legislative terms of the appointers.
On Monday, the Jackson County Administrator, Sandra Erickson called a meeting with all department heads and said the passage of the act would be detrimental to the county and each department.
Erickson said the TVA in-lieu-of-tax money is 37% of the county’s budget, and if the money was controlled by a committee rather than the county, the money would not be able to be included into the budget.
“This means massive lay-offs, services being cut and no support for the agencies we currently support,” Erickson said.
Erickson asked all department heads to be prepared for budget cuts if the act passed in the coming weeks.
Senator McGill stated, “There will be no lay-offs or cuts, due to the money being controlled by the Delegation and all departments will receive what they are currently receiving.”
Senator McGill called a public hearing regarding the TVA in-lieu-of-tax money on Monday, April 25 in the Gail Duffey Auditorium from 4:30 p.m. until 5:45 p.m.
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