A legal dispute between Morgan County Commissioners and the Morgan County Treasurer over back pay looks like it has finally been settled.
In a statement issued late Tuesday afternoon, Treasurer Louella Pryor said she has agreed to accept $58,000 from the county after receiving less than her full salary for eight years.
Pryor said that it is always better for everyone to sit down and work a problem out together.
The settlement is less than half of what she was awarded by Circuit Court Judge Ralph Jaynes in a summary judgement on the case.
"I hope the Morgan County Commission will learn from this, that sometimes a simple 'I am sorry' goes a long way," she said.
Judge Jaynes ruled on Oct. 2 that the county owed Pryor $93,600 in back pay plus interest and additional retirement plan contributions.
In a two to one vote Oct. 17, the county commission decided to appeal the ruling and then hired a different attorney to take the case.
Negotiations between Pryor and the commission were recently reopened after local attorney Michael McDorman took on the appeal case.
"I am glad the commission finally realized that I have been treated unfairly but I am very disappointed that it could not have been resolved three years ago. If the commission would have been willing to look at this situation and work this out in the beginning, it would have saved the taxpayers thousands of dollars," Pryor said.
The commission had spent $27,638.70 since 2011 on legal counsel regarding the question over Pryor's salary. The appeal would have cost the county another $5,000.
From 2003-2010, Pryor received a salary of $33,300 per year. According to the court ruling, her salary should have been $45,000 a year.
Pryor was paid 74 percent of her state-set salary during that time frame while other elected officials received 100 percent. The difference in pay amounted to the $93,600 that she was awarded in circuit court.
Serving on the Morgan County Salary Commission, Pryor herself voted for that salary though she has said that she questioned the legality of the salary over the years. She was unsure in the matter, however, until attending an October 2011 Missouri Association of Counties meeting where she heard an attorney speak on elected officials' salaries and came to believe the $33,300 salary was not right.
Pryor attempted to negotiate a lesser settlement prior to filing the lawsuit and during the lawsuit, but the county commission refused to settle.
In the midst of her third term in office, Pryor is hopeful that differences can now be put aside and the county can move on to other things.
"The lawsuit has been very difficult for me personally and a distraction for the county. I deeply appreciate the support I have received from so many people," Pryor said. "I am glad it has been resolved and look forward to working with everyone."