Franklin County has asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by three citizens seeking to block the county commission from refinancing certificates of participation, or COPs, used to construct and renovate county buildings and pave roads.
In the alternative, the county is requesting that Circuit Judge Ike Lamke require the plaintiffs — Art LeBeau, Eric Reichert and Ron Keeven — to post a $2 million bond if they are allowed to proceed with the lawsuit filed two weeks ago.
The three plaintiffs filed a “petition for preventive injunction against county resolution 2012-117” which addresses refinancing of the county’s outstanding COPs.
The plaintiffs asked a judge to stop the county commission from approving the order, which they claimed was ambiguous and wrongly authorized Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer to sign off on the refinancing.
The suit claims the county has no such power to authorize Griesheimer to do so.
County Counselor Mark Vincent said the $2 million bond was requested to provide the county, and taxpayers, with a way to cover potential losses in savings from refinancing the certificates of participation.
“In the event that any injunction is granted and we lose the ability (to capture) the lower interest rates, we can capitalize on that, through the bond, in the end,” Vincent said.
Allowing the petition to proceed, the county’s response states, could impede the likelihood that the COPs can be refinanced and interferes with “the ability to obtain the best terms possible.”
Vincent said rates have continued to drop since the commission’s last working session, meaning the county could save even more money in interest charges by refinancing the three COP series.
He said even if the county prevails in the suit, it could cause delays.
“The court could drag it out, there is a process to follow,” Vincent said.
The motion to dismiss, filed by Vincent and Joe Purschke, the county’s assistant counselor, says that the petition from the plaintiffs is “so ambiguous that it is difficult, if not impossible, to determine the relief requested” and “does not state a cause of action upon which relief can be granted.”
The motion calls the plaintiffs’ actions “vindictive in nature” and “without merit” and says the men intend solely to “interfere with the business operations of Franklin County.”
Vincent said the county also submitted an affidavit from Mark Grimm, an expert in the area of municipal finance, stating that a single commissioner has the ability to “execute documents on behalf of the commission.”
The case was assigned to 20th Circuit Court Judge Gael Wood, who recused himself this week.
The case is now before Judge Lamke.