CLINTON — Nearly $2,000 in legal fees will be paid from the county treasurer’s office, the Clinton County Board of Supervisors decided Monday.
The Supervisors on Monday elected an attorney claim of $1,983 be paid in full by the county treasurer’s office. The claim stemmed from a hire in the treasurer’s office. Board of Supervisors Chairman Dan Srp said the county has precedence that if Human Resources assistance is available and the correct information is given but is not followed and results in additional legal expense, the additional expense is charged to the department that decided to take on the legal expense.
“I know that HR worked with the county attorney’s office previously and the county attorney questioned your recommendation in a situation and wanted additional legal opinion and took on paying for that additional legal opinion and agreed that that was the appropriate procedure,” Srp said. “He also agreed that in this situation because the treasurer’s office wanted to operate differently than recommended from HR and incurred these expenses that it would be appropriate to have the treasurer’s office cover the expense.”
Clinton County Treasurer Rhonda McIntyre said the only portion of the fees she requested was legal counsel’s presence for 4.7 hours, which she believes was for a meeting and travel time.
“I didn’t ask for anything else,” McIntyre said. “And the only reason that I requested her presence was because I was directed to by (Clinton County Attorney) Mike Wolf. When I asked him to come he wouldn’t be present at the meeting. And he said to contact Amy Reasner.”
Srp said the legal work in the claim was specific to the treasurer’s office, directing a hire be conducted and completed within appropriate legal practices while meeting all requirements of county policy, state laws and federal laws. Srp said the advice on the recommendations was previously received by McIntyre and the treasurer’s office by Human Resources.
“I’ve got the emails that show all that information was communicated to you previously,” Srp said. “And almost all of it was covered here in department head training that I was here and I know you were participating in as well. And so when when a number of concerns were identified because you had taken action and moved forward outside of those recommendations the result was that we had to have all this legal work that was incurred. And the resource had been provided to you through HR to guide that process and make appropriate recommendations. And so that was why the county attorney I believe supported and made the recommendation that the treasurer’s office budget would be the recipient of this invoice.”
Srp said the counsel request was to explore ranks and responsibilities as representatives of the Board of Supervisors, while also exploring their rights to protect the county from legal liability.
McIntyre stated the request was not in reference to legal advice but to have legal counsel’s presence as a moderator.
“I wasn’t contacting Amy Reasner for any reason other than just to have a third independent party present at any meeting that I would have with Mr. Srp,” McIntyre said. “And so that’s a whole different perspective that I’m coming from than where you are. So I would be happy to split this bill with you. I don’t believe that 100 percent of this bill is my doing. But I would be happy to take half of it out of my budget.”
Srp disagreed, stating McIntyre was provided guidance about legal hiring practices. Srp said legal hiring practices, such as the Veterans Preference Act, have been in place since 1944.
“There’s nothing new about that,” Srp said. “It’s something that we have to operate by. And that was specifically the issue with posting a part-time and hiring a full-time as you had submitted and proposed and were defending very strongly that it was your right to follow that process and procedure...I felt it was appropriate to invite legal counsel to try to impress upon you and explain to you why that was an unacceptable outcome and why the board should not be recommended to support that outcome.”
Srp added he believes the matter could have been addressed in a phone conversation with legal counsel.
“It was your choice to receive that information in person as opposed to over the phone,” Srp said. “That was your prerogative.”
McIntyre suggested the claim be paid and they move on. She added throughout the process there are things she learned that she will never do again.
“I do believe I made a mistake in hiring a person full time without reposting,” McIntyre said. “And I will never do that again. That’s a learning curve thing and I believe I’ve learned that. So I don’t think that my motivation was to be contrary. It just turned out that way. And for that I apologize. Going forward certainly I wouldn’t do that again...As far as I’m concerned it’s not a big issue anymore. It never was going to be for me. It just kind of mushroomed.”