PRINCETON — Gibson County Commissioners officially approved the stipulation of the private settlement agreement in the federal lawsuit filed against the county by the ACLU during a meeting Tuesday morning.

County attorney Jim McDonald made the recommendation, noting to Commissioners that the fees with a federal lawsuit can get steep.

“A settlement agreement stops some of that and limits Gibson County’s exposure,” McDonald said. If we do not reach some type of agreement then the federal judge will be in charge of building your jail and the fees will go up and you will have no control on what happens.”

Last month, the Commissioners approved a $250,000 preliminary design contract with American Structurepoint, contingent upon funding from the Gibson County Council.

The council meets next week to decide whether it will approve an advertised additional appropriation from the new county jail tax fund for the project.

Should that be approved, the design firm would work on reviewing and certifying space needs, as well as providing floor plans for the expansion of the current jail or new construction options.

McDonald said the settlement outlines the county has until Oct. 13 to make that decision. At which point there would then be nine months allowed for design and 18 months for construction.

“This is something that’s not going to go away,” he said. “You can’t write a letter to the judge and tell him to leave us alone. It’s not going to happen.”

The commissioners voted unanimously to ratify the settlement agreement, as well as to allow the president to sign off on the document.

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