MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Bibb County school's former Chief Financial Officer is suing the school district and claiming a secret lease agreement signed by school officials is unconstitutional.
41 NBC first told you about Ron Collier in December. He filed a whistle blower lawsuit on December 20, 2012 against the Bibb County School District, saying he was demoted after refusing to write a check.
On January 14th, his lawyer, Jerry Lumley, filed an amended lawsuit to include a secret lease agreement signed by school officials.
"Mr. Collier is trying to prevent the leaders of the school system from paying debts or paying bills, paying tax money they shouldn't pay," Lumley said.
Lumley tells 41 NBC school board president Thomas Barnes signed a lease with the Central Georgia Partnership for Individual And Community Development, Inc. (CGPICD) on July 27, 2012 to lease half of the Ballard Hudson Middle School for $575,000 per year for the next ten years.
"The State of Georgia's constitution does not allow entities like the Board of Education to incur debt that can't be satisfied in the current fiscal year," Lumley said. "This lease creates a debt of the school system that will go on for ten years."
This is the same school the school district sold to CGPICD in 2009 as surplus property for $220,000. In addition to rent, the school district will also have to pay utilities, repairs, and insurance for the next ten years.
"The lease was kept quiet from the board members and not shared with them for their input and their required approval," Lumley said.
Collier says taxpayers should not pay millions of dollars for an unconstitutional lease. Lumley says Collier believes the school district is spending tax dollars inappropriately. He wants to see that stopped and the finances returned to good order.
"Mr. Collier is doing this because the leaders of our school system have not done their job," Lumley said.
Collier is seeking a temporary and permanent injunction. A hearing is scheduled for next month where a judge will decide whether or not to temporarily stop the lease payments.
The lease says the building will be used to house Macon Promise Neighborhood programs. 41 NBC reached out to the school board, but was told it cannot comment on pending legal issues.