MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - The Bibb County School Board Monday voted unanimously to pay $38,000 in attorney's fees from last summer's district map lawsuit. The suit was filed by Board member Gary Bechtel and then-candidates Brenda Sutton and Lester Miller. Bechtel, still a Board member, recused himself from Monday's vote.
Attorney Patrick Millsaps advised the board to just pay the fees, so as not to incur anymore costs because of litigation.
Board member Susan Middleton asked if paying the fees and not fighting the suit would imply culpability on the board's part concerning which government entity was responsible for the decision to use outdated district maps in the July 31 primary election. Millsaps responded that would not be the case. Back in May, the Board of Education, the Macon Water Authority, and the Bibb Board of Commissioners wanted to use the old maps in the midst of state redistricting. Bechtel and fellow plaintiffs argued that move would disenfranchise voters in certain districts and filed the suit.
In June, a federal judge ordered the new maps be used in the July election.
Board Member Susan Sipe asked Millsaps Monday about the ramifications of fighting the decision, and he replied that it woul be in the best interest of the board to drop the issue and pay the attorney's fees.