Mayors Gist & Harris speak out on county’s lawsuit against city of Jackson

JACKSON, Tenn. — Two mayors are speaking out after Madison County files a lawsuit against the city of Jackson. It started after a vote from City Council members to redirect money originally going to the school system back to the city.

“It’s unfortunate that we are going to be in court with Madison County,” Jackson Mayor Jerry Gist said.

Madison County filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the city of Jackson about their decision to redirect $12 million going to the school system from taxes back to the city.

“We had a day and a half notice that they were going to do this and, boom, six City Council members, at the direction of the mayor, that’s what they did,” Madison County Mayor Jimmy Harris said.

“Every contract has a starting date and an ending date,” Mayor Gist said. “There is no ending date on the gift that the resolution has given to the county. If we don’t intervene at this point, then this could go on for eternity.”

It’s a decision Mayor Harris feels strongly about.

“The issue is strictly about an agreement that the city of Jackson made with the taxpayers of this community enticing them to vote on a tax increase,” Mayor Harris said. He also says it’s a decision the community needs to decide on.

“To me, it’s a little arrogance to think you have a better decision making than the voters in this community,” Mayor Harris said.

WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News asked both mayors how this will affect county and city relations moving forward. They gave two different answers.

“We’ve had a good relationship over the years, and we will continue to have a good relationship,” Jackson Mayor Gist said.

“You’ve got to have faith and confidence in the person sitting across the table from you,” Madison County Mayor Harris said. “If they do this, then what are they going to do on the next deal?”

“We’re not going to walk away from education,” Mayor Gist said. “They are still getting $25 million from city residents just in sales tax.”

“The city wants to make a point of all this they are donating to the school system, and I want to clear that up,” Mayor Harris said. “Half of sales tax by law goes to the school system. A donation is a voluntary thing. Half of that sales tax is not voluntary. It’s state law. Period.”

Mayor Gist says the money will go toward the cost of infrastructure estimated to total over $60 million.

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