Update: 3:29 p.m.
Alex Fairly released a statement to MyHighPlains.com concerning the 2022 trial judgment in the Amarillo Civic Center Complex project lawsuit:
I’m grateful it’s over. It’s time to move on – and I think Amarillo did last May. But we shouldn’t overlook the lessons to be learned – the small group of people who thought their opinions were more important than the taxpayer’s wishes still wield enormous influence and power. But everyday Amarilloans now know they have a voice and that justice is possible when we stand up for right and good.Alex Fairly, local businessman
AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – On Wednesday, judges affirmed the 2022 trial judgment in the Amarillo Civic Center Complex project lawsuit between the City of Amarillo and local Businessman Alex Fairly, following both the city and Fairly filing appeals.
According to released court documents, the Seventh Court of Appeals in Amarillo agreed with the decision of retired Judge William Sowder in October 2022, in which he ruled in Potter County District Court in favor of Fairly. As previously reported on MyHighPlains.com, Sowder ruled that the city could not use $260 million in anticipation notes to fund the Civic Center project after the city violated the Texas Open Meetings Act, along with the Texas Government Code, the Texas Tax Code and the state’s constitution. Further, Sowder ruled that the city would be required to pay Fairly’s legal fees.
Sowder’s ruling came after Fairly filed suit against the City of Amarillo in May 2022 aimed at preventing the city from moving forward with funding the expansion and renovation of the Amarillo Civic Center Complex through anticipation notes. Fairly argued that the Amarillo City Council’s ordinance to fund the project was unlawful because it differed from election results in 2020, and claimed the city’s plan was not brought forward to Amarillo residents before officials voted on it.
Both Amarillo and Fairly filed appeals after Sowder’s ruling, with the first briefs filed in February 2023.
As detailed submitted briefings, the City of Amarillo argued against the ruling and claimed it “erroneously” invalidated the ordinance that contained the use of anticipation notes for the project as well as awarded Fairly’s attorney’s fees, and further argued against the ruling that the city had used a different ordinance to avoid calling for an election related to the project.
Meanwhile, Fairly appealed the ruling and asked that it be changed to include an argument that it didn’t cover: whether the city’s Civic Center funding-related ordinance violated the Texas Government Code because it did not include imposing a tax.
“The underlying declaratory judgment action pits taxpayer Alex Fairly against the City of Amarillo. At issue was the City’s $260.5 million plan for renovating and expanding its civic center complex without voter approval,” said the Seventh Court of Appeals in the released opinion, “After the trial court rendered judgment for Fairly, finding among other things that the City violated the Texas Open Meetings Act (TOMA), the City and Fairly filed notices of appeal. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.”
Although neither appeal was successful, the Seventh Court of Appeals still affirmed the ruling in Fairly’s favor. The full opinion of the court can be viewed below.
MyHighPlains.com reached out to both the City of Amarillo and Fairly for comment regarding the ruling. While a response from Fairly was pending on Thursday morning, Amarillo city officials issued a statement:
“Outside legal counsel for the city of Amarillo is reviewing this item. The city will not comment on pending cases and will not have any comment until further review and receiving direction from council.”City of Amarillo