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ANDERSON — Both sides were optimistic after a meeting Tuesday to open dialogue between the county council and commissioners to seek a solution for outstanding attorney fees and to cover the commissioners’ attorney costs for the remainder of the year.

Three members of the Madison County Council — President Pete Heuer, Ben Gale and Lisa Hobbs — met with Kelly Gaskill, president of the Board of Commissioners. Also present were the attorneys for both the council and commissioners.

“There had been a breakdown in communication, and anytime we can start a dialogue again I think that’s positive,” Gale said.

“There was some good discussion and I’m hopeful that we’ll find a resolution out of this, and that will include the council and the commissioners being on the same page as far as the process that we need to go through to allocate funds,” he said.

Jonathan Hughes, an attorney with Bose McKinney & Evans who represents the commissioners, said he was grateful for the opportunity to sit down and talk with the council.

“I thought it was a really positive step forward for the county in terms of communication between the two branches,” Hughes said.

“I don’t know what results will come of it,” the attorney said. “We’ll just have to see how that works, but it was a very positive meeting.”

The dispute between the two bodies arose in June when the council denied a transfer of $250,000 from the group insurance budget line to pay legal fees of $171,515, fees that were largely the result of defending the county in a lawsuit over a redistricting plan adopted by the commissioners in 2019.

The council’s budget for 2020 included $150,000 for legal fees and $80,000 for professional services.

Follow Don Knight on Twitter @donwknight, or call 765-622-1212 ext. 204567.

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