By Makenna Mays, Staff Writer

Lawrenceburg will no longer have to pay Franklin County $3 million for a revenue-sharing contract created in 2006.

In a decision from the Indiana Court of Appeals on Wednesday, August 28, it was determined the City of Lawrenceburg will not have to award Franklin County any money. The judges found the money would have to be appropriated in the city's budget each year. However, because it was not, that is a violation of state statute, thus voiding the agreement. This agreement also made current city administrators responsible for a decision entered into by a prior administration.

The original agreement was entered into between Franklin County and Lawrenceburg in January of 2006. The agreement being that Lawrenceburg paid Franklin County $500,000 per year, so long as Lawrenceburg received at least that amount of wagering tax revenue from the casino located in Lawrenceburg (Hollywood Casino). Lawrenceburg agreed to pay this money to Franklin County because it was one of the counties that supported Lawrenceburg's efforts to bring in the casino. This money went into the General Fund.

Franklin County received this money until 2013, when Lawrenceburg terminated the agreement based only on a decrease in the wagering tax revenues it was receiving, but not an elimination of those revenues. At the time of termination, Lawrenceburg indicated that Franklin County would still be able to participate in a regional grant program.

In November of 2015, after the regional grant program had also stopped operating, the Franklin County commissioners directed their local counsel, Grant Reeves and Paul Barada Jr., to file suit to enforce the agreement. Reeves also brought on Paul Jefferson as additional counsel as Jefferson has experience in handling prior casino revenue matters in Northern Indiana.

In January of 2018, Reeves and Jefferson moved for summary judgement on behalf of the county arguing there was no dispute the Revenue Sharing Agreement was a valid agreement, and Lawrenceburg wrongly terminated that agreement. Lawrenceburg then moved for summary judgment on its own behalf arguing the agreement was unenforceable because it was a grant, and it was also unenforceable because Lawrenceburg had not appropriated the funds required to be paid to Franklin County prior to entering into the agreement.

Last August, Judge Matthew Bailey, a Decatur County judge awarded Franklin County $3,092,333.95 in damages in its lawsuit against Lawrenceburg over improper termination of the Special Revenue Sharing agreement between the two counties. The agreement provided for the annual sharing with Franklin County of $500,000 of certain tax revenues from the riverboat in Lawrenceburg. Bailey previously determined this termination was a breach of contract and set the matter for a damages hearing on December 28, 2018. This decision was appealed by Lawrenceburg.

The vote was 2-1 siding with the city of Lawrenceburg. The court of appeals ruling can be found here.

Franklin County could still potentially appeal to the Indiana Supreme Court.