By: John Zippert, Co-Publisher
At its February 14 regular meeting, the Greene County Commission passed a resolution agreeing to settle two long-running lawsuits with Greenetrack, which had clouded the county’s financial position.
The first lawsuit concerned the Commission’s lease payment for its undivided half of ownership of the Greenetrack property and facility. When Bear Bryant Jr.’s corporation left Greenetrack, he gave the ownership, half to the County Commission and half to the employees of Greenetrack.
Greenetrack set up a lease agreement under which it was paying $150,000 a year to the Greene County Commission. Luther Winn, CEO of Greenetrack said, “Because the Commission was experiencing financial difficulties, we voluntarily increased our payment to $250,000 a year.”
The lease agreement ended in 2012 and the Commission decided not to cash the 2013 lease payment check of $250,000 with Greenetrack, because Nick Underwood, Commission Chair at that time, wanted to renegotiate the lease and increase the amount. The 2013 check was never cashed and the dispute led to the Commission filling a lawsuit against Greenetrack.
The settlement, which was negotiated by Allen Turner, Chair and the late Lester Brown, Vice-Chair, provided that the County would be paid $100,000 a year in back rent, for eight years 2013-2021. This $800,000 would be paid in five yearly installments of $160,000. A new lease for two years, beginning on March 1, 2022, with an automatic one-year extension, would be at $100,000 per year.
If there are less than 5 gaming entities in the county, at the end of the lease period, the annual rental would increase to $175,000; if there are more than 5 gaming entities, the rental would decline to $50,000 annually; if there are 5 gaming entities the annual rent would remain at $100,000.
The settlement stipulated that the joint property owned by Greene County Commission and Greenetrack was the total 53.128 acres where the racing, gaming and collateral facilities and land are located.
The settlement also settled another lawsuit by Greenetrack against the Commission concerning operation and maintenance of the sewage lagoon on the property. The Commission had escrowed $160,000 in fees for the lagoon, which will be released to the Greene County Water and Sewage Authority on March 1, 2022.
This lawsuit settlement was first presented to the Greene County Commission at a Special Call Meeting on January 24, 2022.
The meeting was attended by three commissioners, Chair Allen Turner, Tennyson Smith and Corey Cockrell. Commissioner Brown had passed and Commissioner Summerville was absent. Smith moved approval of the settlement but Cockrell would not second the motion and said that he did not agree to the settlement because it favored Greenetrack.
At the recent January 24th meeting, all four commissioners voted for the settlement, which will now go forward.
The Commission agreed to reopen the Senior Citizens Feeding Program at sites at the Eutaw Activity Center and Forkland City Hall as of March 1. The centers had been closed due to COVID-19. The Commission also agreed to re-open the Eutaw Activity Center for other activities as of the same date.
The Commission passed a resolution to be sent to the Governor, Legislative delegation and the family to name LaPorsha Brown, to fill out the remaining months of her father’s term, representing District 1 on the Greene County Commission.
In other actions, the Greene County Commission:
• Approved the 2022 AC County licenses levy and approved a license for Christopher Atkins.
• Approved accepting low bid from West Alabama Fencing for $38,840 for fencing on roadways.
• Approved the financial report and paid outstanding claims. The report showed $4.610,952 I Citizens Trust Bank, $4.895.174 in Merchants and Farmers Bank and $1,098,699 in bond sinking funds in the Bank of New York.
• Approved advertising of available positions in the Highway Department; and travel for staff to training conferences.
• Re-appointed Shirley Edwards to the Greene County Health System Board of Directors.
The Commission tabled action on the use of American Rescue Act funds, action on a franchise agreement letter From Charter Communications concerning broadband in parts of the county; and appointment of two hospital board members from District 2.