The city of North Charleston plans to set aside another $250,000 for its ongoing litigation against the state of South Carolina over rail service.

The sum, recommended unanimously Thursday by City Council's Finance Committee, would bring the city's total spending on the lawsuit to about $650,000.

Both the city and state are in negotiations to try to resolve their differences over the planned rail service, which would affect not only the former Charleston Naval Base but surrounding neighborhoods.

However, those negotiations haven't borne fruit so far, and Mayor Keith Summey said the two sides could face off in court as early as this fall.

Summey said the $250,000 is necessary to keep the city's legal team for its expected work through June 30, the end of the city's budget year.

"If things are settled during the period, we probably won't need all of it, but we can't take that risk," he told council members, who unanimously agreed to set it aside.

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Councilman Todd Olds said, "It's a lot of money, but it's a very critical issue for the city."

At issue is primarily the location of the rail yards and train tracks that will serve the southern end of the former Charleston Naval Base, where the State Ports Authority is building a new container terminal.

The money will come from the city's fund balance, which has about $19 million, Finance Director Warren Newton said. Council members are expected to give their final approval when they meet Thursday.

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.