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Judge Won't Rule Today on Bibb School Lease | News

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Judge Won't Rule Today on Bibb School Lease

A Bibb County judge said he would not rule today on whether a multi-million dollar lease for a former school building was valid.

A lawyer questioned a Bibb County school board member about a multi-million dollar lease in a Friday-morning court hearing.

Attorneys, board members and school officials gathered at Bibb County Superior Court Friday for hearings on two lawsuits.

One was filed by a Bibb County man who wants Judge Edgar Ennis to throw out Bibb County Schools Supt. Romain Dallemand's contract.

The other was filed by former Bibb schools CFO Ron Collier. He wants the judge to order the school district to give him his old job back. He says he was punished for raising questions about a $1 million payment to a community group that now owns the building.

The invoice for the million dollars was sent by the Central Georgia Partnership for Individual and Community Development-- or PICD. PICD is also the landlord of the Old Ballard Hudson building on Anthony Road.

School board members have told 13WMAZ that the $1 million was intended to pay for renovations on the building.

The district has agreed to rent about half the building for $5.7 million dollars over the next decade.

Collier's suit, filed by his lawyer, Jerry Lumley, says it's improper to make any payments on that lease because the school board never approved it. He's asking Ennis to invalidate that lease.

Lumley called the lease an "attempt by private entity to spend $5.7 million to renovate a $220,000 building on the backs of taxpayers."

School administrators signed that lease in June, but board of education members reportedly did not learn of that until October.

This month, Collier amended his suit to ask a judge to stop those lease payments.

The first witness to testify was Susan Sipe, the acting school board president.

When Lumley showed her a copy of that lease, she said she was not familiar with it.

Sipe testified she doesn't recall the board authorizing its president, Tommy Barnes, to enter into that lease agreement.

She said she was unaware, until seeing the lease, that the district had committed any funds to the building.

She said she recalls the board talking about leasing former Ballard Hudson for "a nominal amount..something like a dollar." The actual lease amount is $575,000 a year.




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