Determination of who should seek interim legal services for the city stirred up discussion among the Fairmont City Council Monday. After the council and mayor split evenly over the City Attorney’s recent evaluation,with three people very satisfied with her performance and three dissatisfied. Mayor Debbie Foster then announced that the city would negotiate with Elizabeth Bloomquist on a separation agreement. On Monday, after authorizing the mayor and City Clerk to sign the agreement, the council then had to secure interim legal services for the city’s criminal and civil cases. Turning over criminal cases to the Martin County Attorney received unanimous council support, but council members differed on who should secure legal services for civil cases and city staff needs.
Council member Tom Hawkins, who advocated elimination of the in-house attorney , had drafted a motion authorizing him and a council member of his choosing to solicit letters of interest from area attorneys for interim civil legal services. Hawkins said Foster had agreed to work with him.
I’d like to see Mike do it,” said Wayne Hasek, referring to Mike Humpal, city administrator.
“I completely agree with Councilor Hasek,” Councilman Bruce Peters said. “I too think that city staff should be doing this as opposed to two council people. The city staff works with the City Attorney on a daily basis. I have no interest in sticking my nose into hiring somebody that city staff has to work with on a daily basis.”
“I don’t think we need the city administrator involved,” said Hawkins, adding that interim services would be needed only for three to six months. He said the process was just a “short-term deal.”
Hawkins said he “was advised” that this should be the council’s job, but more people, staff and council would be involved in selecting a permanent contract attorney.
In order to specifically include Foster and Humpal in the interim legal services search, the council voted down the original motion unanimously. When Cyphers offered a new motion for Hawkins, Foster and Humpal to obtain letters of interest from attorneys, the motion passed 3-2, with Hasek and Peters voting no.
The council approved the sale of 2.6 million dollars for the 2019 Improvement Bonds at Monday’s meetin. Jessica Green from Northland Securities, the city’s bond counsel said bonds were sold to the Baird Group at 3% true interest rate. The bonds are callable in 2027. Moody Investor Services maintaned the City’s Aa3 bond rating.