School board OKs liquor lawsuit motion

Xavier Smith • Mar 5, 2018 at 11:11 PM

The Wilson County Board of Education approved the next step Monday in the ongoing liquor-by-the-drink lawsuit against Mt. Juliet.

The board approved the district’s legal representation to make a motion for sanctions in the case.

“That’s something that’s in our civil procedure. It’s when one side believes the other side has not acted appropriately or has not followed or done what they need to do,” said Wilson County Schools attorney Mike Jennings. “This matter has been pending now for almost four years.”

The Wilson County Board of Education filed the lawsuit in Wilson County Chancery Court in 2014 after it failed to reach an agreement with the city regarding back payment of taxes collected until 2013.

Jennings said Mt. Juliet was among several cities that collected liquor-by-the-drink taxes without the knowledge they were supposed to split the revenues with county education systems.

The board sued Mt. Juliet for about $449,000, and has successfully defended the lawsuit against a motion to dismiss and motion for summary judgment in Wilson County Chancery Court.

Jennings said Wilson County Chancellor C.K. Smith’s latest ruling – in the motion for summary judgment – meant the Wilson County Board of Education has a statutory right to receive money, and Mt. Juliet has a statutory obligation to pay money to the Wilson County Board of Education.

Smith’s ruling did not specify how much the district should receive.

“The attorneys from the other side could be sanctioned by the court. The obvious intent there is to try and put some pressure on the client to resolve the matter. I, personally, think it’s time to resolve the matter,” Jennings said.

Jennings said the Lebanon Special School District Board of Education, which joined Wilson County Schools in the lawsuit, voted unanimously for the motion for sanctions. About 17 percent of what Wilson County Schools collects would be owed to the Lebanon Special School District.

Mt. Juliet Mayor Ed Hagerty said last year he believed the city saved Wilson County Schools thousands on waived fees from construction, which should be taken into account.

Mt. Juliet city attorney Gino Marchetti said the figure on waived fees was about $950,000.

Board member Wayne McNeese voted against the move.

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