Marshall Board of Education set to take legal action against county

Contributed

Last week the Marshall County Board of Education, during a special-called meeting, passed two votes that will likely result in lawsuits against the Marshall County Fiscal Court and the Marshall County Sanitation District.

In the first vote, the board members authorized Marshall County Schools Superintendent Trent Lovett to take legal action to obtain a judicial determination of the applicability and legal effect on the board and the school district of any gun control ordinance or resolution enacted by the Marshall County Fiscal Court. Lovett confirmed the measure is in direct response to the proposed ordinance that would establish Marshall County as a "Second Amendment sanctuary county."

"We have to protect the interest of the board and our students and as I've read the proposed ordinance, there's no protection as it was presented during the first reading," Lovett told The Tribune-Courier. "We want to protect our students and we want our school resource officers to be able to carry out their positions in protecting our schools and all the people inside them."

Lovett noted the proposed ordinance as it was presented initially included provisions for federal buildings, but the schools are state buildings so they would not be protected under the language of the ordinance as it was presented during the first reading.

The proposed ordinance designed to establish Marshall County as a "Second Amendment sanctuary county" was introduced by Marshall County Judge-Executive Kevin Neal in a first reading during the Dec. 17, 2019, Marshall County Fiscal Court meeting. The controversial measure was scheduled for a second reading and vote during today's fiscal court meeting but at a quarter past 11 p.m., Neal released a memo on social media on Jan. 3 announcing that following a meeting with Attorney General Daniel Cameron in Frankfort earlier that day, the second reading and vote had been delayed.

The Marshall County Board of Education also voted to authorize its attorneys to file an action for a declaratory judgement in Marshall Circuit Court to obtain a judicial determination of the board's rights and responsibilities under the interlocal cooperative agreement with the Marshall County Sanitation District and Marshall County Fiscal Court to facilitate an expansion of the public waste water collection and treatment system in Draffenville.

Lovett confirmed the board of education and the sanitation board have been in a back-and-forth for several months in a disagreement regarding a bar screen and who will be responsible for cleaning it. He said the contract between the entities required mediation before litigation but the parties involved have not been able to successfully mediate.

Lovett said requiring the school to pre-treat its waste before it went into the sewer was not part of the agreement, noting the school has spent approximately $750,000 "to get out of the sewer business" and hook onto the sewer system.

"The board was willing to mediate and the engineers and attorneys were supposed to pick mediators but were never given the chance," he explained. "The board found one recommended to us by the state engineering licensure board--this person is an attorney, engineer and land surveyor, certified in Kentucky, who met the needs to be mediator for this particular situation and the sanitation district chose not to use that person."

During the Dec. 17, 2019 meeting, the Marshall County Fiscal Court members, with the exception of Commissioner Kevin Spraggs, voted to approve paying a $150-per-hour fee for a maximum of two hours (or $300) to a wastewater consultant from Charlotte, North Carolina, who Neal said is the son of a friend who was planning to come home for Christmas. Neal introduced Jeff Davis, the son of Joe Davis, also a former U.S. Marine who regularly sits on the front row at the fiscal court meetings, as an engineer who specializes in water and wastewater systems in North Carolina.

Spraggs said during the meeting he voted against paying the fee for Davis "because mediation only works if both parties are present and Mr. Lovett said they won't be there on [Dec.] 27th."

During the Dec. 17 fiscal court meeting, Marshall County Sanitation District Chairman Randy Green said the unresolved issue between the sanitation district and the board of education was about a bar screen he said needed to be installed to prevent debris flushed down the toilets from reaching the plant. He reported an exorbitant amount of feminine hygiene products are regularly flushed at the high school, which would result in significant damage to the treatment plant's pumps and equipment and it's the sanitation district board's belief the school should be responsible for the preventative measure.

The Marshall County Fiscal Court is also facing a pending lawsuit in federal court, filed by two local electric companies regarding the monthly fee on electric meter boxes to fund the $1.9 million annual Marshall County E-911 budget. The most recent action in the lawsuit, which was originally filed Sept. 4, 2019, was an agreed order entered by Senior Judge Thomas B. Russell with the U.S. District Court Western District of Kentucky on Sept. 27, 2019. Judge Russell ordered no enforcement of the county's ordinance imposing the electric meter fee, pending further action by the court.