City leaders in Noblesville are considering appropriating $150,000 for outside legal services because of a vacant city attorney position.
Noblesville Common Council members are expected to vote on an ordinance for the matter during its 7 p.m. Sept. 13 meeting. An initial proposal was brought forward at the council’s last meeting on Aug. 23, where CFO/City Controller Jeff Spalding explained the need for funding.
Currently, the city has two people in its legal department – a vacant city attorney position and a paralegal – and Spalding said outside legal services are used to supplement in-house legal services on an as-needed basis. Spalding added that outside attorneys are “engaged in complex and specialized areas of law.”
The city’s former city attorney, Lindsey Bennett, served in the role from January 2020 through March of this year when she left for a position with a private law firm, Spalding said.
The city is continuing to consider candidates for filling the position, he said.,
The city law department’s 2022 budget includes $512,400 for outside legal services, according to Spalding.
“These funds are used by the city to support legal advice and representation needs for all of the city departments and their operations,” Spalding said. “These legal services include advice and representation on city contracts and procurements, compliance and risk management, personnel issues, litigation against or on behalf of city entities, tort claims, code enforcement, economic development and guidance in other areas.”
In the interim, attorney Jon Hughes from Bose Mc Kinney & Evans LLP, who provided legal services to the city on a variety of matters prior to Bennett’s transition, has taken on more work to ensure continuity of operations and protection of interests on behalf of the public, Spalding said.
Spalding said he doesn’t anticipate asking the council for another appropriation for outside legal services but noted the $150,000 being considered is only one piece of a total $285,000 budget increase for the city’s law department in 2022. The other $135,000 will be provided via transfer of funds already appropriated elsewhere in 2022, including funds available from vacancy savings, Spalding added.