As the Lon Morris College bankruptcy estate inches closer to a scheduled January auction, Jacksonville city officials don't hold out much hope of recovering a delinquent $25,600 water bill.
But they remain confident they will get the city's rodeo grounds back. And, arrangements already have been made to host the 2013 rodeo on that property.
However, it's costing the city a lot of money. The legal representation that has been necessary to ensure the rodeo grounds are not being sold by LMC without permission has cost the city way too much, Jacksonville City Attorney Joe Angle said.
Angle didn't have an immediate calculation of exactly how much, but it's no small amount — definitely in the thousands of dollars range. It's money that did not have to be spent, he said.
"They could have just given the property back to us without forcing us to go with them to court," Angle said Tuesday. "They could have said, 'Here. There's no way we're going to be able to spend $250,000 on improvements. Take it back.' I really thought that was what they would say."
Local municipal officials said Tuesday they fully expect the rodeo grounds to revert back to the city and not be included in the January auction.
Byron Underwood, president of the rodeo association, said he has no doubt whatsoever that the “PRCA Tops in Texas Rodeo” will take place in May as planned on rodeo grounds.
"City officials tell me they are either going to get it (the grounds) back or another organization will get it and the rodeo will go on," Underwood said. "I have already sent the application in for this year's rodeo, and I have the arena reserved for May 15 through May 18. The contracts have been signed and we are working on sponsorships right now."