On Thursday, April 13th the Marshall County Council approved invoices for Lebbin Law and Cender Dalton.

Council President Jesse Bohannon said he provided all members with a copy of the invoices to allow them time to review them.  He said, “Approval of those is basically empowering me to submit those through the portal to initiate the claims process.” 

The motion was made by Mrs. Cox and seconded by Mrs. Johnson to approve the March invoices for Lebbin Law and Cender Dalton. 

During Council Comments Council Vice President Tim Harman asked their attorney to comment on the Cender Dalton Municipal Advisor invoices. He said there’s been discussion on whether or not it is a valid appropriation.   

Mr. Lebbin said two statutes allow the council to hire 36-2-3-6 which allows for legal and administrative personnel to assist and advise the council in the performance of its functions.  The second statute which he said is more specific is 36-2-5-384 which allows the council to hire or contract with an entity to assist in scheduling and making compensation for the employees of the county.  The attorney said, “So those two statutes give the council the authority to hire Cender Dalton and approve their invoices. 

The March invoices from Lebbin Law were $390 to prepare for and attend the council meeting, $160 to review county council appropriation and funds status and contact the State Board of Account$180 to work with the council on statutory interpretation, and $300 for work with the council re authority for consultants for a total of $1,030.  The previous invoice of $1,915 hasn’t been paid so the total amount due to the council’s attorney is $2,945.  The rates for the attorneys were $200 and $300 hourly.   

The Cender Dalton invoice for March was $412.50 for meeting with the council president on March 17th and related to the 2024 budget timeline.  The hourly rate for Steve Dalton was $275 an hour.

During the Commissioner’s meeting last Monday, during the approval of the claims process, Commissioner Mike Burroughs commented on the request to pay an invoice for the County Council attorney who is from Granger and rates are between $275 and $300 hourly.  The Council has about $5,000 in the personal services budget.  He said the February bill is $1,915 and they will run out of money before the end of the year.  Burroughs also said County Attorney Jim Clevenger, who lives and works in Marshall County is underpaid. 

Burroughs approved the claims as presented but said, “The public needs to know they went outside the county and hired an attorney at almost twice what we are paying our local attorney who represents all the departments of the county.” 

Commission Kevin Overmyer detailed the invoice.  On February 3rd $55 for council advisor research, 2/6/23 setting up work session $60, 2/9/23 Issues with ARPA Funds $240, 2/10/23 ARPA $330, 2/10/23 research SLFRF & draft memo $660, review payments with council president regarding project funding $180, attend County Council work session $390 equals $1,915.

Overmyer seconded the claims as presented and they were approved 3-0. 

Councilman Tim Harman appeared before the Commissioners on Monday and commented on their attorney.  He said to the commissioners, “You have a $40,000 professional budget. Ours is actually $10,000. My intent as a fiscal steward of the dollars is to be as careful as possible.  The amount of professional services that has been spent by this board has been astronomical.  This study (Baker Tilly) cost $35,000 and they are telling you, you have money in there to use and you are ignoring it.  You have spent between $300 and $400 an hour drive time for Baker Tilly to drive up here.  Three to four hundred dollars an hour.  The APRA advice that Baker Tilly invoiced this county for last year was $22,000.  The jail bond presentation which was $13,000.  You spent $70,000 last year on Baker Tilly in those three areas.  So, the amount of professional services that the county council has budgeted is $10,000.  It probably is light, but it is our intent always to be good fiscal stewards and any dollar amount we use will come back to this county in good advice and a good return on investment.”    

Harman went on to say the council chose an out-of-county attorney because almost every attorney we know has a conflict and not many have municipal law or government law expertise.