Judge rules in favor of Phenix City.; allows annexations of Russell Co.

Judge rules in favor of Phenix City.; allows annexations of Russell Co.

RUSSELL COUNTY, Ala. (WTVM) - The Alabama Supreme Court ruled in favor of Phenix City in a lawsuit over properties in the area.

“Russell County challeng[ed] a large number of annexations dating back to 1991," said Jim McKoon, the attorney for the City of Phenix City.

Alabama’s Supreme Court affirmed a lower court’s previous decision.

“Every annexation that we have done has been done within the confinements of the law, correctly, the right way, and that’s why we’ve been able to win these lawsuits pending against us,” said Phenix City Mayor Eddie Lowe.

This battle was over more than 50 pieces of property near the Walmart on Highway 80.

City and county leaders said the real issue at hand is tax revenue from these properties.

“This whole thing boils down to money,” said Russell County Commissioner Cattie Epps.

The city and county both said they need the tax revenue from the properties. The city shared it needed the funds for police, fire, and sewer.

“The lifeblood of any municipality is the sales tax,” Lowe said.

With the ruling of Alabama’s highest court, the annexed properties stay as they are. The properties will remain in Phenix City’s jurisdiction.

With the matter settled, leaders on both sides of the issue said it’s time to work together.

“I’m in favor of sitting down and talking with the City of Phenix City and maybe we can work together," said Russell County Commissioner Ronnie Reed. "We shouldn’t be against one another.”

Phenix City’s attorney agreed.

“I think what the city would really like is for the county commission to reconsider these lawsuits so they can work with the city and continue to move things forward," he said.

According to McKoon, there are two other pending lawsuits between Phenix City and Russell County: one involving the gas tax and how the revenues are distributed between the city and the county, and the other involving Phenix City’s contracted use of the Russell County Jail.

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