Electric companies file suit against fiscal court image

Jackson Purchase Energy Corporation (JPEC) and West Kentucky Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation (WKRECC) filed suit Wednesday against the Marshall County Fiscal Court asking the United States District Court for injunctive relief that would prevent their collection of the 911 fees on behalf of the fiscal court.

The lawsuit states the ordinance imposing the $7 monthly fee violates the United States Constitution and the Kentucky Constitution, is unenforceable due to being vague and uncertain and impermissibly infringes upon the regulator authority of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC).

The lawsuit also states that by enacting the ordinance, the fiscal court is proposing an unprecedented scheme to commandeer a private company into the service of an administrative state in a manner that has no limiting principle. The document also states the ordinance has far-reaching implications and dire consequences as it would set the precedent that local government, or any government, can force, under color of law, private citizens to perform labor on behalf of the local government for any purpose.

Attorney Edward T. Depp, who filed the nearly 70-page document with the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky Paducah Division requests: the court render a judgment declaring the ordinance imposing the fee is unconstitutional, invalidated in its entirety and is of no force and effect; an injunction permanently prohibiting the implementation and enforcement of the ordinance; an award of the costs of this action to the fullest extent permitted by law including but not limited to reasonable attorney’s fees.

On Aug. 26, a split vote of 3-1 during a special-called Marshall County Fiscal Court meeting approved imposing the $7 fee on electric boxes as well as Marshall County E-911’s departmental budget in excess of $1.9 million. Commissioner Kevin Spraggs was the sole voter in opposition of both the budget and the fee; his motion for imposing a $5 monthly fee died after never receiving a second.

During that meeting, WKRECC President and CEO David Smart and his legal counsel, Greg Carter, as well as JPEC President and CEO Greg Grissom spoke again in opposition to the measure saying it was not their place as private entities to collect fees for a governmental agency and reminded the court they would have no authority to penalize non payment. During the first reading of the ordinance imposing the fee on Aug. 6, Smart, Carter and Grissom also advised the fiscal court members their boards had passed resolutions in opposition to collection of such a fee and said they had been authorized to seek any legal action necessary to oppose it.

More about the lawsuit will be in next week’s edition of The Tribune-Courier.

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