County & city leaders react to judge’s ruling against Madison County


JACKSON, Tenn. — Madison County Chancellor James Butler ruled in the city’s favor during an emergency injunction hearing Tuesday, but the battle may be far from over.

Tuesday’s hearing was just the beginning stage of the county’s lawsuit against the city, and many are concerned about where things will go from here.

“After a court decision, you have some folks that are happy and you have some folks that are not so happy,” Mayor Jerry Gist said.

After a three-hour hearing, Chancellor Butler said he believed the county proved its right to the money and there was at least an implied contract regarding the use of the sales tax in question. However, he ruled in favor of the city of Jackson on the temporary injunction.

“The court is going to have to respectfully deny the county’s request for injunction because there is no irreparable harm,” Chancellor Butler said.

County Mayor Jimmy Harris said he is disappointed with the decision. There are just 10 days until the start of the new fiscal year, and the county must come up with $12 million for the school system.

“It’s absolutely going to put a real strain on us, especially the cash flow in the interim period,” Mayor Harris said.

Among the city and county leaders were concerned citizens anxious to hear the decision for themselves. “I’m not wishing for the county or the city, but I’m just wishing for the best interest of our children,” citizen Billy Moore said.

City Councilman Johnny Dodd said he would like to keep this money battle from proceeding in the courts.

“What happened today is not a win or lose,” Dodd said. “I think it was just an opportunity for us to sit down and say, ‘OK, now let’s put our heads together and see how can we solve this issue.”

Mayor Harris said based on this hearing, the county feels it has a strong case moving forward.

“Got a very good possibility that if we see this to the end and we go to court, we’ve got a very good chance of winning this case,” Mayor Harris said.

Mayor Harris says a combination of a property tax increase and additional wheel tax will likely have to be implemented. The County Commission is scheduled to meet again on June 30.

Both sides were also ordered by the court to participate in mediation, but no timetable was given as to when it will begin.

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