5-year-old fight is costing taxpayers millions - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

5-year-old fight is costing taxpayers millions

(WMC-TV) - A 5-year-old fight between the City of Memphis and former Memphis City Schools is becoming a costly battle for taxpayers.

When Shelby County Schools took over Memphis City Schools, the lawsuit followed. According to lawmakers, negotiations have been going on the whole time and closure could be in sight.

Taxpayers are not happy to hear that the interest on the money owed by the City of Memphis has accrued by $25 million amid the lengthy court battle.

"I think people who make policy and those decisions need to be a lot quicker about it," said taxpayer Gannon Hamilton.

"I feel like the attorneys are getting rich and they need to solve the problem," agreed Taylor Porter.

A letter from the school system's attorney to the Memphis City Council's attorney reveals the original $57.5 million owed to the school system will accrue interest totaling $82.3 million on January 1.

If it remains unpaid through June 30, the debt will jump to $84.4 million.

"It's disturbing because I'm paying other bills and other taxes for things we have built that haven't come to fruition," said Tim McKinley, referencing The Pyramid.

Recently appointed School Board Chairman Kevin Woods is now leading the negotiations on the schools' side.

"There have been ongoing conversations," he said.

The holdup through the years includes a counterclaim.

The city says the schools owe them $160 million for money lent to build schools.

"The City of Memphis knows there's money owed to education," added Woods. "They've offered some counter-settlements. We're hopeful we can get something we can take something back to the board."

Woods anticipates the case will move along fairly quickly in the new year because he says all involved want to put it behind them.

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