The Lawrence Common Council’s meeting packet for Aug. 16 includes a settlement agreement between the council and Mayor Steve Collier’s administration, which could lead to dismissal of a months-long court case between two government branches of the City of Lawrence.
In the proposed settlement, the council would agree that its investigation into Collier regarding the 2022 budget reversion was complete and the council will take no further action. In return, Collier would agree to recommend and approve appropriations to pay for the council’s outstanding expenses related to the investigation and the court case.
There is no gag order in the agreement.
“Nothing in this agreement shall restrict the right of any party from making public or personal statements regarding the litigation or the investigation as they deem appropriate,” the settlement states.
The appropriations needed to pay the council’s outstanding bills total about $335,000. The funds will go to law firms that provided services to the council during its investigation of the mayor’s administration, and during the litigation process.
At deadline, the settlement had not been approved by the council or signed by Collier. It is not yet posted on the Marion County Court’s website. Messages seeking comment from the council and Collier’s administration were not returned in time for publication.
Collier’s administration filed a petition March 23 in Marion County Superior Court over the council’s decision to appropriate $250,000 to investigate who was at fault when the city’s 2022 budget was not submitted to the state by deadline in late fall of 2021 and reverted to the previous year’s budget.
The council started the investigation in late 2022-early 2023 after learning that the city had been operating for all of 2022 under the 2021 spending plan.
Collier’s petition asked the court to declare the appropriation null and void, based on state statutes that say an appropriation cannot be made without the mayor’s recommendation. Collier’s petition also asked the court to rule that the council was at fault for the 2022 budget issue, because it allegedly failed to provide details needed for that budget to be submitted on time.
In its response to the petition, the council alleged that through the petition and other actions, Collier’s administration was attempting to avoid investigation. The council’s response denied specific allegations in the mayor’s March 23 petition and included counterclaims against the mayor’s office.
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