Commission: Schools And Suburbs Close To Settlement

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(Memphis) The Shelby County Commission was supposed to decide Monday if it wanted to drop the lawsuit against the suburbs in its attempt to stop suburban schools.

This move would withdraw it from negotiations between Shelby County Schools and the municipalities.

In a last minute shocker, attorneys convinced them to reconsider because they say at least two suburbs are very close to a settlement.

Commissioner Chris Thomas is pushing that resolution to withdraw from the lawsuit because he thinks the county is just wasting taxpayer money to prevent the inevitable, and already cost taxpayers more than $5 million.

But he agreed to delay the vote.

"I didn't expect us to be this close to agreements and since there's strong movement with a couple of municipalities and maybe even some others that might be within a week or two I thought it might be best to hold off," said Thomas.

The clock is ticking on attorneys to come up with a settlement by Thursday.

That's when the commission is calling a special meeting to vote on dropping the lawsuit if no agreement is reached.

Thomas says a settlement would be in everyone's best interest so he's giving it a few more days.

"It could never be brought back up again by the county commission. Having the lawsuit dismissed, six months from now the county commission could come up with another lawsuit," said Thomas.

The commission also voted to keep the county mayor and sheriff's salaries the same next term.

The administration was pushing an $8,000 raise even though county employees only saw tiny cost of living bumps in pay over the past couple of years.

Commissioner Sidney Chism and Walter bailey were the only ones who voted in favor of the raises.

"This discourages people of talent who want to run for these offices and aspire to them but can't afford to," said Bailey.

On the first reading commissioner set the mayors salary at its current $142,000 and the sheriff's salary at $115,000.

Most commissioners says this is more than enough money to make the pay competitive, and they also voted to keep other county administrations salaries the same as last term, just above $107,000.