Muscatine switched to contracted services three years ago. Its council also shared those concerns, said city administrator Greg Mandsager. But even though his city is more than two hours removed from Des Moines-based Brick Gentry, P.C. (Muscatine’s contracted firm), Mandsager said the value of having attorneys with municipal law expertise is immeasurable. He added that finding that kind of knowledge within a city is also rare.
“I understand the case wholeheartedly for hiring locally,” he said. “But from my perspective, I can’t tell you how valuable it is to have experts in the fields. Municipal law is a very specialized category. Having somebody to deal with it on a daily basis is of utmost importance.
“We’re probably paying a little bit more up front,” he added. “What it’s saving us on the back end is incomparable. I am confident it is saving us money down the road.”
There are varying ways to apply contracted services, said Trout. Regardless of the route Clinton chooses to take, the important thing, he added, is to pick the best fit for the city.
“The key is to find out what works for you,” Trout said. “Do they need to have a staff person that’s there all the time, or can they find a firm or attorney that fits the need they have?”
Given those varying needs, Trout said he wouldn’t worry about what other cities are doing.