County settles suit against Hillman DDA

ATLANTA – After a year of moving forward with concerns over the Village of Hillman Downtown Development Authority the Montmorency County Board of Commissioners approved a settlement agreement and mutual release to drop the issue entirely.

The agreement relieves both parties – the county and village – of any further liability on the issue. However, the mutual release written by the Hillman Village Council calls for $4,048 in reimbursements for high costs associated with the issue, which was denied by the commissioners.

“This whole issue of paying off the infrastructure will be done this year,” Commissioner Daryl Peterson said. “We should pay the $4,048 for the costs they were basically forced into and get this thing settled. What’s fair is fair.”

Peterson made the motion for the county to reimburse the village a total of $4,048, but the motion failed with 2-2 vote. Commissioners Peterson and Bert LaFleche in support, Gene Thornton and Stacy Carroll against, Rick Ferguson was absent.

“What they’re being billed for is for defending themselves in court. It’s not for the FOIA request,” Thornton said.

However, with amendments to the original settlement agreement, the board approved Thornton to sign the release and send it back to the Village to avoid further litigation. The agreement states some members of the board of commissioners made unsubstantiated claims and allegations against the village and DDA.

In other business:

  • Probate Judge Benjamin Bolser was awarded a 3 percent pay increase to match other county elected official raises.
  • the board set juror mileage to 30 cents per mile, which increased from the previous 10 cent set mileage amount.
  • April is designated as social host awareness month.
  • the board approved paying $415 to go toward purchasing 400 updated county booklets.
  • a county-wide project for proper signage will begin within a few months.
  • the board approved updating and remodeling the equalization office at a cost of $4,600.

Emily Siegmon can be reached via e-mail at esiegmon@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5687.