Poll: Should Snellville Pay Its City Attorney?
As of Monday's council meeting, the city of Snellville had not paid Stuart Oberman for his services. He is owed more than $14,000.
Updated 4 p.m., January 30, 2012: Snellville Patch will close this poll at 5 p.m. on the Friday before the next council meeting scheduled for Monday, Feb. 13.
Updated 6:36 p.m., January 26, 2012: According to a letter sent December 1, 2012, the interim city attorney agreed to represent the city at a reduced rate of $150 an hour. This new information is reflected below in a revised version of the original article.
Snellville's interim city attorney Stuart Oberman is owed more than $14,000, according to data received from city officials.
In November, newly elected Mayor Kelly Kautz promptly appointed Oberman to replace Tony Powell, who had served as city attorney since 2010. Powell had been appointed by former Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer.
Despite his appointment, Oberman has not been paid for his legal services as of Monday's council meeting. And, as of January 5, 2012, he was owed $14,015, according to data received from the city of Snellville. This includes more than $10,000 for administrative services.
Several council members, including Dave Emanuel and Tom Witts have questioned not only the amount owed, but also Oberman's qualifications for being a city attorney.
Oberman is a practicing attorney based in Loganville, but he has not been a city attorney before. Click here to be taken to his résumé.
At the January 23 meeting, Emanuel said "I've had a lot of problems with this appointment." Previous city attorneys had some 25 years of experience in municipal law, he added.
"Some of the charges, I feel are excessive and unjustified," Emanuel said. "The mayor does have the right to appoint, but I have the right to ask some questions."
According to a letter sent to the city on November 22, 2011, Oberman informed the city of his fees for consideration. They included: $225 an hour for Oberman's normal services, $130 an hour for any services by his associates, $80 an hour for any work by paralegals and $300 an hour for attendance at city council meetings.
Oberman later sent a revised scheduled of fees to the city officials, where he listed $150.00 an hour as his rate. The other fees remained the same. From those rates, the total owed -- $14,015 -- is derived.
Snellville Patch has requested the fee amounts for the two previous city attorneys, including Powell and Mike Williams.
Kautz said that she asked around for city attorneys for Snellville, but that no one really wanted the job. Oberman was not the first attorney Kautz went to, and the mayor said she had to find someone as an interim attorney on short notice.
"There are city attorneys out there that don't want to touch Snellville because of our image out there in the public," she said.
Recently, the mayor said she went to a municipal law class and asked for recommendations. Still, "several stars have said no, that they do not want to come here to our city."
Kautz said Oberman is qualified and stands by her appointment. Although he may be an interim attorney, she believes the city should pay the fees associated with his appointment.
What do you think, citizens? Should the city of Snellville promptly pay up? Take our poll! (This poll will close Friday, Feb. 10, 2012.)