The only thing that’s adding up in the border war between Bibb and Monroe counties are the legal bills. The dispute that came to a boil in 2004 after then-Bibb County Commission Chairman Charlie Bishop and Monroe Chairman Harold Carlisle decided to leave the 12.5 mile border between the two counties alone. Bibb’s commissioners agreed. Monroe commissioners did not. A decade later, the Hatfields and McCoys are still going at it.
Monroe County’s legal expenses have already topped about $2.5 million. Bibb County bills are about $450,000, and still there is no definitive resolution in sight. It’s gone back and forth -- bouncing at first between the counties and then-Gov. Sonny Perdue’s office, then off to Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office to Fulton County Superior Court. It then bounced to the Attorney General’s Office and ended up on the docket of the state Supreme Court. The state’s high court sent it back to Fulton County, where it sits now. The basic issue is this: Can a Superior Court judge, in this case, Kelly Lee, tell the secretary of state what to do? There are obviously two opinions -- Kemp’s and Lee’s -- and it seems the Supreme Court may eventually have to make it more plain than it did in its last ruling that said it was Secretary Kemp’s decision to make.
Along the way, Judge Lee has managed to upset the Attorney General’s Office, the secretary of state, and the state Supreme Court. Also, there is still the second presentment from the Monroe County grand jury sitting on the governor desk asking him to appoint yet another surveyor.
While some may contest the notion that this dispute became one only because of the development of the Bass Pro Shops store and its surroundings, it’s more than just the annual tax revenues. Bibb County floated millions of dollars worth of bonds to construct the infrastructure for Bass Pro. How Monroe County would repay Bibb for that investment, if it were to prevail, remains open and would have to be decided in court. That would probably take another decade or two.