MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – A judge has yet to make a ruling to temporarily stop the payments for a lease between the Bibb County school district and a non-profit organization working with the Macon Promise Neighborhood.
During Friday's hearing, Superior Court Judge Edgar Ennis listened to testimony and arguments revolving around former Bibb schools' Chief Financial Officer Ron Collier's lawsuit. Earlier this month, he filed an amended lawsuit which says the lease signed between the Board of Education and Central Georgia Partnership for Individual and Community Development, Inc. (CGPICD) is unconstitutional.
Collier's lawyer, Jerry Lumley, only called one witness to the stand. Acting Bibb County school board president Susan Sipe said she was not informed of the lease agreement for the old Ballard Hudson Middle school, which was signed by then President Tommy Barnes. She said she didn't know the lease would be for $575,000 a year for the next 10 years.
"In the early stages of discussion about the Promise Neighborhood, a mention was made of the lease agreement and I recall someone throwing out wit would be nominal, like a dollar," Sipe said.
Lumley argues the lease agreement was going to be used as security for a loan from the Macon-Bibb County Urband Development Authority to the CGPICD for building renovations.
"This was nothing but a scheme to get the taxpayers responsible for paying a $4.7 million loan," Lumley said. "The taxpayers are being called upon to pay, to renovate that building."
The school district's attorney, Ben Mathis, said the lease is valid and Collier's lawsuit cannot dispute it.
"It's already been decided. Judge Brown, in another preceding, held that the lease was valid and they're just trying to relitigate that issue and it's already been decided," Mathis said.
Lumley is asking the judge to temporarily stop all payments to CGPICD, including paying rent, construction fees, or buying insurance. CGPICD's attorney, Jim Thomas, says his argument won't hold up in court.
"The elements for a temporary restraining order were surely not shown by the plaintiff and he [Judge Ennis] cannot grant a temporary restraining order," Thomas said.
Judge Ennis did not immediately make a decision. He said he's taking the arguments "under advisement."
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