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County may do contract legal work

Fri, Dec 15th, 2006
Posted in Government

PRESTON - County Attorney Brett Corson, who was recently re-elected, will now serve in a full time position. Up to now the attorney position has been part time (.8 FTE). On Tuesday, Fillmore County Board members set his salary at $79,825. The amount would reflect an increase to a full time position plus a 3% cost of living increase.

Duane Bakke noted that salaries are to be set on an individual basis taking into account satisfaction with past work and qualifications. Bakke expressed his disappointment with Corson. He stated that he has requested on several occasions that the attorney attend as much as possible the county board meetings. The increases were passed with Duane Bakke and Marc Prestby voting against.

Corson later on stated that now that he is full time he should be able to attend more meetings. However, he warned that to attend most all of the county board meetings would take about a quarter of his .2 additional time. Bakke said that county attorneys before him had attended board meetings except when there was a pressing issue requiring their time. Prestby agreed.

Contracting Legal Work

Corson lobbied to have the assistant county attorney position, which is now a .4 position, raised to a full time position. Leigh Campbell presently holds the position. Corson explained that Houston County and a Fillmore County city have expressed interest in contracting with Fillmore County for attorney work. Campbell could spend about half her time working for each county. A full time position would entitle her to benefits that two part time positions would not allow her. Corson stressed that a .4 position is hard to fill and maintain, costing time and money in training. Corson made clear that he had no written commitment from Houston County or the city. He said that both approached him and that he wanted to find out if the board was interested.

Bakke suggested that they should look at a three to five year contract with an opt out clause. Any increase in the assistant attorney's position would be tied to the contracts. Commissioners seemed to have no objection to further exploring the possibilities. Bakke and Dahl suggested that the position would have to be increased a point or two just to handle the increased load from social services.

Corson noted that Social Services, because of changes to medical assistance and asset recovery, is asking for help in assessing individuals and their ability to pay or in the recovery of assets when medical assistance or other benefits are paid. Twenty-five percent of recoveries are kept by the county with the remainder going to the state or federal government.

Marc Prestby used the opportunity to question Corson on the progress on the probate process for a house in Mabel. He said that the board requested that the process go forward a couple of years ago. Corson and Campbell questioned whether the property was worth the cost of the probate process. He suggested the county could just as easily wait until the property could be sold for non-payment of property taxes after six or seven years. He noted that the county would recover the same percent of the sale. Prestby expressed his displeasure having allowed the house to stand empty this long, let alone several more years. He suggested that the city of Mabel is not being served.

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