Judge rules contract to pay Franklin County $500,000 annually is valid

The City of Lawrenceburg’s decision to ditch a casino revenue sharing agreement with Franklin County broke a valid agreement, according to a ruling by Decatur County Superior Court Judge Judge Matthew Bailey.

The city will appeal, said city attorney Del Weldon Thursday morning, Aug. 16. He said the current administration cannot be held accountable for a decision by the previous administration. Councilman Tony Abbott also said the decision will be appealed.

Franklin County wants Lawrenceburg to pay $2.5 million, it says is owed since the city last paid in 2013. Franklin County also wants an annual $500,000 payment reinstated.

The agreement providing Franklin County $500,000 yearly was reached under former Mayor Bill Cunningham. The Dennis Carr administration stopped the funding, arguing Franklin County was using the cash for general fund expenses, and not for economic development. It also said gambling revenues had decreased 30 percent since the agreement was reached in 2006.

Franklin County commissioners counter the agreement does not place restrictions on the money. They sued in 2015, two years after Lawrenceburg ditched the agreement.

Franklin County also contends the agreement contains no expiration date, and that the city agreed to provide $500,000 annually as long as it receives at least that much in wagering tax revenue from its  agreement with the casino.

The lawsuit originally was filed in Franklin County Court in 2015, but the Indiana Court of Appeals agreed with Lawrenceburg to move the case out of Franklin County.

In his official words, the judge said: “The agreement has a sufficient term of duration. The duration of the agreement is the period of time that Lawrenceburg continues to receive wagering tax revenue in an amount sufficient to make the agreed payment to Franklin County.”

The agreement is valid and enforceable, said Bailey, who ruled Friday, Aug. 10.