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Negaunee council addresses city attorney position ~ Part 2

October 25, 2011
By JOHANNA BOYLE ( , Journal Ishpeming Bureau

NEGAUNEE - The Negaunee City Council continued its budget discussion Thursday evening, focusing on possible changes with the city attorney position.

City Manager Jeff Thornton recommended the council seek bids for the city's auditing service, as well as city attorney services.

City Attorney Caroline Bridges, who is a contract employee of the city, addressed the council on the issue during the budget session.

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"I think in the past, the only times a council has ever done this is in the event they have decided for one reason or another that they need to find a new city attorney. And I don't know whether I should take Jeff's comment as this group's message to me that's what you want to do," Bridges said. "Assuming that is your decision, it's a little disheartening to be hearing this because I have not had any comments, good nor bad, from any of you, nor from past councils. ...

"I think that if you have decided that you wish to have a different city attorney, that is absolutely your right. Any council has the right to be represented by the attorney they choose."

Bridges advised council members to think about what services they expect and want from a city attorney, which would be necessary not only for putting out a request for proposals as well as for helping Bridges to meet those expectations if the council decides to retain her services.

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Councilman Paul Maino said he supported Bridges.

"As far as I'm concerned, Caroline is doing a great job for us. I personally would like to see it stay the way it is," Maino said. "If I had a vote on her staying or looking for somebody new, I wouldn't vote to look for somebody new... I know she puts in a lot of work."

None of the other council members nor Thornton responded to Bridges' comments.

Thornton said the request for proposals would likely appear on the agenda for the November council meeting.

During the work session, Thornton continued taking the council through the 2012 budget, highlighting purchases and other items that had been requested by city departments but had to be cut to balance the city's revenues and expenditures.

Included in the cuts were the purchase of a replacement salt/sanding truck for the Department of Public Works and some other replacement vehicles.

In particular, Thornton said he had to cut a replacement bucket truck purchase for the city's electrical department to help cover the cost of a bond payment for the city's waste water transmission line project to Ishpeming, which was not factored in during the budgeting process. The truck, which is in need of replacement, will be put off until next year, freeing up $180,000 to cover the cost of the bond, which will come to about $150,000, Thornton said.

Using those additional funds from the electrical fund will still leave the city with a surplus in the electrical fund of $246,000.

The council is scheduled to approve the budget at its November meeting.

Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401.



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