On the same day that Jefferson City filed a lawsuit against Cole County to recover five years' worth of inappropriately distributed surtax funds, there were some signs of finding a middle ground between the county and the Blair Oaks School District.
At a meeting of the Cole County Commission, Blair Oaks Superintendent Jim Jones and other district officials met with the three commissioners to review a new draft of the settlement, which would allow the county to recover more than $656,000 in funds that Blair Oaks received in the last three years.
The new draft came as a bit of a surprise to Jones and company, who said they were already anticipating a lawsuit from the county.
"Our board was under the understanding that the deadline was Nov. 30, at 5 p.m.," Jones said. "We met three times in November to get ready. So, this is obviously a little different course."
The new draft includes a few things that the previous drafts did not. Included in the additions are several acknowledgments by the county that Blair Oaks alerted the county to the situation as early as 2007, as well as a recognition that Williams Keepers, LLC, established the formula that came up with the amount that Blair Oaks has to pay, along with all of the other taxing entities.
Western District Commissioner Chris Wrigley said the offer came after his advisement. He said, however, there is a condition to the agreement.
"It's a one-day offer," Wrigley said. "I've been on boards. I know how they work. I know strategy. I understand strategies. You can get the board together in a day if you want. Once we go to court, everything unravels. The agreement we have with Jeff City comes apart. The agreement that we have with Russellville comes apart. The agreement that we have with Eugene comes apart. Once they come apart, it will be damn hard to get them all back together again."