Bibb-Monroe border surveyor skips deposition

A judge on Thursday said a surveyor must give a detailed account of his work on the Bibb-Monroe county border, an ongoing dispute that puts tax money and community pride at stake.

The surveyor, Terry Scarborough of Warner Robins, skipped a deposition Wednesday despite a subpoena authorized by administrative law judge Michael Malihi. The judge said the surveyor should have testified even though Bibb County hasn’t paid him for his work. Malihi also overturned Scarborough’s demand for a lawyer paid for by the state.

Scarborough said he is reviewing Malihi’s order. Asked whether he would attend the Oct. 7 deposition, he said only, “A person gets kind of stubborn when they’re owed money and can’t get it paid back to them. I’d rather just leave it at that.”

The Secretary of State’s Office ordered the survey, with Bibb and Monroe counties agreeing to split the cost. Monroe County paid promptly. Scarborough has demanded $173,090 for Bibb County’s share of his services, plus about $23,000 in fees and interest through late July.

In a letter faxed Tuesday to Malihi, Scarborough said he was skipping this week’s deposition because Bibb County was withholding the money “in an attempt to bend me to their will.”

“This deposition, scheduled by Bibb County, is another attempt to get me to testify without paying me for my work,” he wrote.

Bibb County Attorney Virgil Adams has said the county has had a check ready to give to Scarborough after the deposition.

The border dispute goes back decades. But it has become more prominent in recent years as development has pushed into north Bibb County. Last week, Bibb County sent out a property tax bill of about $40,000 to Bass Pro Shops, one of the disputed properties near the county line.

A lawyer who works with Malihi in the Office of State Administrative Hearings said Scarborough does not face contempt-of-court charges for not appearing Wednesday.

Scarborough’s absence at that deposition means the border dispute’s resolution is delayed. Malihi had been scheduled to review all the evidence in the case at a hearing Monday. Scarborough’s deposition and documentation are considered crucial parts of the case.

Malihi is expected to make recommendations of fact about the border to Secretary of State Karen Handel, who will have to settle the county line dispute.

James Vaughn, chairman of the Monroe County Commission, said he hadn’t heard of Scarborough’s failure to appear at his deposition.

“That process will work its way out,” he said.

His counterpart in Bibb County, Sam Hart, said he expected about a two-week delay.

“That’s a small delay, not much, and it should enable us to still get this thing completed before the end of the year,” Hart said.

Scarborough skipped another deposition in June, saying he wouldn’t attend any depositions until he was fully paid. Then, Scarborough said he’d attend any hearing if the Secretary of State’s Office subpoenaed him.

In early September, Scarborough notified the Secretary of State’s Office that he was considering a breach-of-contract lawsuit against that office.

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.