The Rhinelander Common Council has approved the hiring of new legal help, but cost concerns remain among some council members.
City Attorney Carrie Miljevich's contract ends this month. Mayor Chris Frederickson has lobbied to expand the role of a legal firm, von Briesen, headquartered in Milwaukee, to take up necessary legal matters beginning June 1. The firm has done work for many municipalities, including several short-term projects for Rhinelander.
Council member Dawn Rog said using this firm would likely see a sharp increase in expenses...
"..The concern I have is cost, $275 per hour. Our cost now is $140 per hour. We are not budgeted to go forward at this point....that's almost double the current price of our legal fees. It is now five months into the 2019 budget..."
Rog had a long list of questions for Frederickson, saying she couldn't see where the money was coming from for the additional cost. Frederickson says he contacted the firm after a dispute involving the city's workforce. He said they will look within the budget to find the dollars.
"It was for the investigation portion of looking into our workforce. When there's legal items that are (in) the budget, their budgeted throughout the budget for different departments, not for one given portion and it's not for any given dollar amount. It's just a total..."
Rog says until now, the firm has done special projects, but none were for human resources.
The council approved having von Briesen handle all the duties now done by the City Attorney after June 1. von Briesen attorney James Macy said they have people come to the community and do the routine legal work, such as traffic court. The council will decide at future meetings about what course they will take to fill the city's legal obligations.