Pacific accepting proposals for new legal services

The Pacific City Council voted unanimously at its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday to start accepting proposals from legal firms and lawyers interested in representing the City.

The move, said Mayor Leanne Guier, should give the City relief from its mounting legal fees by locking in municipal legal services for a year at a fixed price.

"Basically, what [the council] wants to do is make it on a one-year contract, so it can be renewed each year," Guier said. "They want someone who is more diverse also, as far as municipal issues go. And it will ease the process of billing."

Legal representation has been a key issue in Pacific for the past two years.

After former Mayor Cy Sun tried to fire current City Attorney Kenyon Luce, the city council wrested control of the hiring and firing process from him, passing an ordinance to protect the position from the whims of the top administrator.

Until then, the city attorney had been appointed by the mayor and served at his pleasure. Now, the council appoints the City's legal representation.

Among the side effects of the Sun-era that are still being felt are the higher legal fees incurred by the City, a direct result of litigation against the City, much of it brought by former employees whom Sun had fired.

This past year the City paid out more than $250,000 in legal expenses, and it has budgeted nearly the same amount for 2014.

City officials expect a fixed price contract to ease the financial burden, Guier said. Additionally, the hiring of a firm or an attorney that specializes in munIcipal law should lower the City's legal costs.

"Luce currently has to bring in specialists on many things," Guier said.

The City began accepting proposals on March 4 and will continue to accept them until March 18.

After that, the Governance Committee – composed of Gary Hulsey, Vic Kave and Stacy Knutdson – and the mayor will review them and recommend one for the council to appoint.

Should the council approve the appointment, the City would contract with that firm or attorney until Dec. 31, 2015.

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