Taxpayers will foot the bill for Jackson Co. Legislature’s legal battle with County Executive Frank White

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A battle has heated up between Jackson County Executive Frank White and Jackson County legislators, and it's going to cost Jackson County taxpayers a quarter of a million dollars to settle.

That $250,000 fight is over who runs the Jackson County COMBAT program, which controls about $12 million worth of public funds.

The Jackson County legislature filed a lawsuit against County Executive Frank White and two others in his office.

COMBAT is an initiative to prevent violence, treat addiction and stop crime in our community, but the Jackson County legislature says White is misusing the money which is not his to use.

Jackson County Legislative Chairman Scott Burnett said it is illegal for White to use COMBAT money. Burnett also said White's been using that money to pay county officials, including himself.

The Jackson County legislature recently passed an ordinance transferring power of the COMBAT program from White to Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker.

Burnett said White doesn't accept that decision.

Burnett said the legislature has done all it can to get White to follow what he says is the law, so now a judge will decide.

And Jackson County taxpayers are footing the cost for that fight to the tune of $250,000.

When asked if he thinks taxpayers will appreciate $250, 000 of their tax money being spent on this, Burnett said, "well, of course not, but we can't get the administration to follow the law. We don't know what else to do."

"I don't think the taxpayers really understand the difference between the Executive or the Legislature, so I think we are all going to be diminished by all of this that is going on," Burnett added.

The fight over COMBAT has been at times contentious.

The lawsuit was announced after business hours Tuesday. According to Burnett, White was not made aware of the lawsuit before it was filed.

Burnett also said the lawsuit is an effort to prevent county employees from being mistreated.

Recently, Frank White suspended a county finance official who refused to follow White's order to pay salaries from the COMBAT fund.

Fox 4 heard from Frank White Wednesday morning.

“All the veto’s that were overridden by legislature could end up needing a judge to decide the outcome," White said in a text to Fox 4's Mark Alford.  COMBAT needs a conclusion so that we can move forward. The associates at the county deserve a more stable work environment . They need for the legislature to put budgets back into departments so that operations have a normal flow."

Read the full details of the lawsuit here.

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