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Mitchell Board Of Work Member Not Happy With Attorney's Fees

Last updated on Saturday, June 2, 2012

(MITCHELL) - Mitchell Board of Works member Terry Slone was not happy when the city received a bill for $6,347.50.

According to Krystal Shelter, of the Times-Mail the bill was from attorney Christopher Burton, who served as the city's special counsel when it sought a declaratory judgment in the long-debated case of Councilman Everett Ferrel and whether or not he was legally serving as a councilman after it was found out that his property was not located inside the city limits.

In April, Lawrence Circuit Judge Andrea McCord signed an "order for declaratory judgment" that stated Ferrel was owed $12,250 by the city of Mitchell in back wages during his service as a legal member of the council. The city paid Ferrel $9,610.74, after taxes, on April 18.

Slone wants an an itemized invoice of where and how Burton spent his time in preparing the court case.

In January, the board of works approved a motion that would allow city attorney Byron Steele to file a motion for declaratory judgment on behalf of the city with the city paying a $137 filing fee. The idea was to determine if Ferrel was legally seated on the council and if he should be paid for that time. His pay was withheld for a period during the dispute. Council members receive $4,900 a year.

However, shortly after the board OK'd that motion, a letter surfaced in which Steele offered legal advice to Ferrel during the dispute, so city officials decided to hire Burton as special counsel.

In the bill submitted to the city May 15, Burton charged the city $6,187.50 for 41.25 hours of legal services at $150 an hour. On top of that, was $137 for the filing fee and $23 for binders purchased to hold paperwork for a total of $6,347.50.

Also, in coming up with the declaratory judgment, the city paid a mediation fee of $577.50 to a mediator on April 12 who worked with the city (represented by Pruett and Burton) and Ferrel to come to an agreement. The mediation agreement is private.
On Thursday, the board of works approved the claims, 3-0, except for the bill from Burton's office. Officials will seek an itemized list of expenditures from Burton and discuss the bill at a later date.

The next board of works meeting will be at 4 p.m. on June 12 at City Hall.

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