City of Columbus approves paying sheriff's legal fees

City of Columbus approves paying sheriff's legal fees

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM)- There are new developments in the legal battle between Muscogee County's sheriff and city officials – and now, it involves taxpayers' money.

On Tuesday night, Columbus City Council approved ordinances to pay the legal fees for Sheriff John Darr in the city's ongoing lawsuit with him over accusations of an inadequate budget for his department this last fiscal year.

The sheriff's legal fees are more than $200,000. The city attorney says that money will come from the city of Columbus' miscellaneous general fund. That's also where payment will come from for the Superior Court Clerk Linda Pierce's legal fees of $150,000 for a similar lawsuit.

"We believe firmly we should've never been sued. Now, the taxpayers have to incur this expense because indeed these constitutional officers have chosen to sue the city," Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson said.

Tomlinson says the city will most certainly appeal this ruling by a judge that the legal fee payments should come out of the city's fund. She also says there could be challenges with having enough money for city legal cases in the near future, possibly forcing them to dip into the reserve fund and impacting taxpayers again.

"Should the city have a judgment rendered against it or settlement which the court approves (in any legal case), then that fund could be running low or expended entirely," Tomlinson added.

Meantime, Sheriff Darr said he had no comment Tuesday night, but his attorneys may give reaction on Wednesday.

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