Loudon-based attorney Joe Ford, representing Bradshaw, said the legal document will have a 30-day window before it can be closed. If neither side files a motion, Ford said the case will effectively be over.
“The next step is to file the motion to alter or amend the judgment,” Ford said. “Both sides have issues that are going to be brought up. But if 30 days from the date of entry, which was March 18, goes by, then the judgment becomes final. So if we get to April 18 and no motion to alter or amend has been set then the judgment is final.
“But I anticipate there will be motions filed, which will delay the finality of the judgment,” Ford said.
Both sides met with Williams in January at Morgan County Courthouse, where he asked for legal documentation showing Niles’ request for pay increases for all current employees under her supervision. Niles’ attorney, Knoxville-based Zachary Tenry, filed a motion Jan. 11 for a post-trial conference seeking clarification on Williams’ memorandum opinion. Niles sought clarification on whether she would be able to give a total of $57,000 in raises to current employees.
In Williams’ memorandum opinion issued in December, he ruled in favor of Niles’ attempts to gain additional deputy clerks and more funding for existing future employees. The four new employees included a deputy clerk-bookkeeper at a salary of $32,000 per year and three deputy clerks at $25,500 per year.
Retroactive pay covered the county’s 2 percent raise during the two previous fiscal years.
According to Williams’ memorandum opinion, Niles had the option to start new employees out at a lower pay and make “graduated increases” in their salaries based on performance and ability.
“The issue that was being brought up by Zach Tenry on behalf of Ms. Niles that he commented about would be the subject of a motion to alter or amend the judgment,” Ford said. “Essentially what he filed before we got the judgment in and the chancellor said, ‘I’m not going to hear this before the judgment goes down.’ So essentially we’re going to go right back and argue over the same thing is my best guess, but like I said, 30 days goes by and nobody does anything it’s over.
“If anybody files a motion to alter or amend, then that what they call (stalls) the 30-day period for filing an appeal and it would not run until that motion could be heard,” he added.
Niles declined comment, and Tenry could not be reached before News-Herald presstime.
County Budget Director Tracy Blair said Tuesday that Loudon County had spent $38,730 in the current fiscal year on legal fees. Last fiscal year the county spent $17,744.
In an interview Friday, Bradshaw said the case was likely still “four to six weeks out.”
“I hate to speculate, but I think that’s probably a safe assumption that they’re going to ask for — getting some clarification or even go into the appeal,” he said. “... Getting (this case) behind us is the No. 1 priority. I think ideally if I had my way come April 18 we’d be able to do whatever budget amendments we need to do and get it behind us and keep moving forward. So, my perspective and the county’s perspective I think that would be a goal. Whether or not that happens just remains to be seen.”