The two-year long fight between Russellville's city council and the Electric Plant Board is over after a judge ruled in favor of the EPB.
Special Judge Kelly Mark Easton of Elizabethtown overturned the decision of the council, by a four-to-two vote, to kick board members Berks Brown, Joe Carrico, and Bill Fuqua off the EPB board. The council had voted the members off in 2003 after accusing the EPB board of lavish travel expenses and health insurance policies.
EPB attorneys argued the board members were removed without the proper due process of a hearing, and Easton agreed. The city council held a lengthy series of hearings stretching out over months after their vote to remove the board members, but Easton ruled that "the record reveals a pattern during the proceedings which supports a finding of predetermination."
Easton's ruling is being called "historic" by EPB attorney Fred Greene, who says the decision sets clear boundaries on the authority of any city council to govern EPB policy.
In his ruling, Easton says, "The city's ability to control the EPB is limited. If it does so by proper procedure; it may remove board members upon a finding supported by substantial evidence. Otherwise, the city has no authority to abolish the EPB or manage its affairs."
The city council's attorney in the case, David Broderick, told WBKO he is "disappointed by the ruling," but hasn't decided whether or not they will file an appeal.
Of the six current council members, only one will remain when the newly-elected council is sworn in near the first of the year.