The news came right at the five-month mark of the city's learning that the U.S. District Court for the southern district of Illinois had decided in favor of the city in the Metro Pony LLC vs. City of Metropolis case, which contested the city's Sexually Oriented Business ordinance was unconstitutional. The Pony was appealing that decision.
Abell said the city learned "the appeal was dropped last week (Sept. 20). That means there will be no challenges to the ordinance — it's done, we're done."
There are, however, a couple of loose ends to wrap up, he noted. One deals with finalizing zoning regulations and the zoning map as it relates to regulating adult uses and their location, which is being worked out through the Zoning Commission. The other is out-of-pocket travel expenses incurred by the city's attorney Scott Bergthold, of the Chattanooga, Tenn.-based Law Office of Scott D. Bergthold PLLC, for an airline ticket he'd purchased to take a deposition prior to the appeal in Cape Girardeau that had been cancelled.
In addition, Abell noted that Bergthold "chose not to bill the city for any attorney's fees, although we used his services for attempting to negotiate a settlement of the litigation and for advice on enforcement," he said. "This occurred after the case was won at District Court and before the appeal. The out-of-pocket costs included some related to investigation and other items that were incurred in preparation for trial prior to the Court’s granting our motion for summary judgment (in May)."
Otherwise, "this case is done. The ordinance is in place," Abell said.
After suspending the rules, the council in a 6-1 vote with Alderman Richard Corzine voting against, passed the annual appropriations ordinance for the fiscal year 2012-13. Corzine noted his objection was an employee receiving a $2.50 raise after others were told they wouldn't receive one. The balanced budget, the city's first in a number of years, didn't come without its struggles.
"I believe this budget is the best budget the city's had in a long time as far as being a balanced budget," commented Frank Walsh, the city's Waste Water Treatment Plant supervisor, during the brief public hearing on the budget held prior to the city council meeting. "The city needs to be commended for that. I know everybody took a lot of grief last year, but it was well worth it. It is paying off."
Alderman David Daugherty was absent from the meeting.
-- To read the entire story online, please subscribe to the Planet's e-Edition --