Editorials

EDITORIAL: No real win in sight for Monroe County

The modern-day border dispute between Bibb County and Monroe County has lasted more than a decade and has had more twists and turns than a pretzel. The case now sits before the seven justices of the Georgia Supreme Court -- again.

Though the boundary line had been undisturbed since 1877, for some reason it became important, at least to some Monroe residents, when Bass Pro Shops announced intentions to locate a retail-warehouse outlet on and near the disputed line in 2004. The fight started in earnest after a survey ordered by Gov. Sonny Perdue was completed.

To say the survey was unusual is an understatement. Part of Bibb County would have been an island surrounded by Monroe County. The survey, conducted by Terry Scarborough, drew questions about whether he used the proper ferry location along the Ocmulgee River -- Waller’s or Turrentine’s -- to establish the boundary line.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp eventually rejected the survey, saying it did not establish a definitive boundary line. Monroe County filed a motion for judicial review but was denied and followed with a Writ of Mandamus to force the secretary of state to establish the boundary -- and to use the initial survey. Bibb County and the secretary of state appealed to the state Supreme Court, and the lower court ruling was reversed. Kemp was required to resolve the dispute between the two counties and decide on a boundary. Kemp responded by telling the counties that he would consider any new evidence from both sides. Monroe County objected. They want to restrict the decision to evidence gathered prior to May 2011. Now the case is back before the state Supreme Court, where oral arguments were given Monday.

Monroe County has doubled down with a bad hand. No matter what the court decides the citizens of Monroe County come out losers. Monroe County taxpayers have pumped an estimated $2.5 million to $3 million into this 10-year old fight. Even if Monroe County is victorious it would only be a moral success. Financially, Monroe County taxpayers still lose. Not only will they have paid millions in attorney fees, they will then have to figure out how to pay Bibb County for the infrastructure costs that started with a $9 million bond issue. And guess where that would probably be decided -- in court.

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