|Back in September last year, just a month after being re-elected,
Circuit/General Sessions Court Clerk Lisa Niles petitioned the court for
nearly a quarter million more dollars for her departments operations
after the previous budget committee failed to meet her demands for the
the additional funds.
State law allows for certain elected officials to sue the county if they feel the county isn't providing enough funding for their office. In Niles case, she herself provided documentation that showed her caseload has actually gone down substantially while her departments budgets had gone up substantially.
One of the main reasons for the law that allows for these "salary suits" is that a particular department of government may be so under staffed and under funded that the department can not meet the responsibility of that office. The law even allows for an expedited process that allows the elected official to quickly go before the judge with their complaint. Even her attorney stated as such in a previous news story.
Well here we are nearly ten months after Ms. Niles filed her salary suit against the county and nothing. Well, not really nothing but certainly no action that would show there was any real urgency or problems in her offices. Apparently, everything has been operating business as usual. She still hasn't accepted her 2014-2015 budget and we're now finalizing the 2015-2016 budget.
For all these months, we hadn't heard anything from Ms. Niles or her attorney. Then out of the blue last month, we get notice that her attorney wants to hold depositions with the current budget committee members and the mayor. Depositions? In a salary suit? Are they serious? What could we possibly be deposed about? The fact that her work load had gone down nearly 20% and the clerical line in her Circuit Court budget has increased by 204% and the clerical line in her General Sessions Court budget has increased by 91% during the same time periods? This is not a criminal case or one accident victim suing another one.
Now we've decided we're going to try mediation. So it's not bad enough that both Ms. Niles and the county have hired lawyers to represent their sides, now we're going to hire a third lawyer to mediate between our two lawyers. This is absolutely madness. But guess who's paying the bills for all the attorneys? YOU THE TAX PAYERS and you can thank Ms. Niles for all the wasted money.
Ms. Niles is a grown, adult. We've got ten commissioners and a mayor all grown adults and here we are operating like a bunch of kindergartners letting the teacher settle a playground dispute.
I have no idea how Ms. Niles lawsuit will end but if she does win there will be no way to pay the extra quarter million dollars she's asking for without a property tax increase and apparently she doesn't care.
Ms. Niles will be up for reelection in 2018. I hope the voters will remember just how she has treated them and the disrespect she has shown them after they allowed her to hold her office of trust. Maybe in the next election, someone else will win that position that can operate that office without punishing the tax payers.