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Million dollar bill at issue in dispute between Freestone County cities

Posted at 9:41 PM, Jul 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-25 16:04:50-04

FREESTONE COUNTY — Two heavyweights keep duking it out in Freestone County. The City of Teague says the City of Fairfield owes it money from a joint venture. Fairfleid disagrees, and may have just landed a knockout punch.

The two cities went into business together several years ago. The water plant they built on the highway between the two helped them, and the prison that is located here. But as partnerships do, this one went down the tubes.

"It's been going on a long time, that needs to be taken care of," said Terry Gibson, a Teague resident.

After awhile, Fairfield says Teague stopped helping operate the plant.

"We've been running it for several years, and we have continued to pay Teague around $10,000 a month,"explained Fairfield City Manger Nate Smith.

But somehow Teague felt shortchanged, and sued. However, Fairfield brought in a forensic accountant who found Teague didn't get shortchanged. Instead, Teague owes Fairfield money.

How much do the people of Teague owe? According to the forensic accountant: $1,630,703.

What do city leaders have to say about it? Not much.

City Administrator Theresa Prasil says the city won't comment on pending litigation.

The forensic accountant's report will be entered into evidence in the court case, unless the two sides agree on an out-of-court settlement.

And Fairfield expects payment in full if the court orders it. Now if that happened to a taxpayer like Terry Gibson, the city could take his house, but nobody expects a lien on Teague City Hall.

”If it's a homeowner, there are several remedies that we can use, but if it's another city, and one we're in a current legal battle with, it's gonna be a little bit difficult," said Smith.

And with a negotiated settlement looking likely, taxpayers say both sides stand to lose. "Either take a loss or chalk it up. Let's just learn from our mistakes and do better next time," said Gibson.

Meantime, Fairfield says it just paid off the last piece of debt for the water plant, giving it free and clear ownership and possibly no more payments to Teague.