Attorney Jim Clevenger who works for the Marshall County Commissioners and the attorney hired by the County Council, Marcellus Lebbin have a difference of opinion when it comes to the Council approving a contract for a financial consultant.
During Monday’s County Commissioner meeting, Jesse Bohannon, President of the County Council and Tim Harman Vice-President appeared before the commissioners for the informational purpose and in the spirit of collaboration to inform them that the council has signed an agreement with Cender/Dalton Financial Consultant annual service agreement.
Bohannon read a portion of Indiana Code that their attorney says gives them the right to engage the services of Cender/Dalton to assist with the budgeting process, help with the personnel committee and elsewhere when necessary and proper according to the council’s powers and responsibilities.
Councilman Harman said they have a legal opinion from their Attorney Marcellus Lebbin that says the agreement for financial assistance is not subject to commissioner approval and doesn’t require commissioner approval to make payments under the contract agreement.
During the discussion Commissioner Kevin Overmyer asked if the council plans to “get rid of Waggoner Irwin & Scheele” (WIS), the HR Consultants the county has used the past several years.
Councilman Harman said the personnel committee is still reaching out to them for information and Councilman Bohannon said the council wouldn’t abandon the work WIS has provided in the past.
When asked why the County Council felt it necessary to hire a financial consultant Bohannon said there are seven members on the council and 1 has 5-years of experience, 2 have 2-years of experience the other 4 are new this year. Plus, he mentioned new leadership in the Auditor’s office. Bohannon said, “If you had a $33 million ship, (referring to the county’s budget), spending a few thousand dollars to go in the right direction is a good investment.
County Attorney Jim Clevenger said he disagreed with the assessment of the council’s hired attorney. He said the statute doesn’t allow them to hire a professional service contractor to provide the services you are looking for. It states they can hire administrative personnel to assist them. Clevenger said Cender/Dalton, by way of their contract, calls themselves an independent contractor providing all kinds of professional services.
Councilman Harman told Attorney Clevenger, “I think you are splitting hairs on the definition of administrative personnel because the code is generalizing a position in which we can employ I.E. hire or pay.”
The two agreed to disagree.
Council President Bohannon said he isn’t requesting any action from the commissioners because he believes he is in his own lane and the council will proceed in its current direction.
Attorney Clevenger told the commissioners if a claim is submitted by someone hired, that you have not authorized to do so, they can refuse to pay that claim. He also suggested the council have their attorney contact him to discuss the issue further.