by: Catherine Varnum Updated:GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. —
The stage is now set for a legal battle between the Clay County School Board and County Commissioners.
After 2 hours Monday, the Board of County Commissions voted 3-2 to hire an outside lawyer to defend itself against a lawsuit being filed by the school board. "You're willing to go to court and cost taxpayers money," said one taxpayer. "I usually never favor outside lawyers but this is one time I'll say stand firm. Don't back down," said another taxpayer during public comment.
The issue is two county agencies, spending tax dollars to wage a legal battle against the other. It began when commissioners decided last week to delay adding a referendum to the November ballot. The referendum was passed by the school board and would allow voters to decide how the school superintendent chosen. The school board believes the commission violated state law. "How do you explain to citizens that we're raising taxes to have enough money to litigate the school board," said Commissioner Wendell Davis.
It's a question we asked commissioner Ronnie Robinson, who supported spending the money. "To go this route will be cheaper then if it's voted on and turned around," said Robinson. "I don't think we'll spend a lot of money on this."
Action News has learned neither side set a spending cap on this legal challenge. We asked the school board chair why this is fight is worth the money. "It's unfortunate, but as a school board we had no choice but to uphold the law," said chair Carol Studdard.
After the commission's vote Monday to defend itself against the school board lawsuit, taxpayers argued the yes vote, was the wrong decision. "Play with people's money or don't. It's up to you," said one taxpayer.
There is no word yet on when this will be in court. The school board chair says the lawsuit will be filed Tuesday.