Columbus contracts with four attorneys for city duties

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional information.

The reorganization of Columbus city government continues under new Mayor Jim Lienhoop as the administration agreed earlier this week to contract with four attorneys for city attorney duties. But city officials say the four contracts are comparable in price to the single-attorney arrangement under the previous administration.

Lienhoop and the Board of Public Works and Safety earlier this week approved the part-time contracts with Alan Whitted for $60,000, his son Alex for $35,000, Michael DeArmitt for $30,000 and Mary Stroh for $21,000.  As contractors, none of the attorneys will receive city employee benefits, but all of them would be reimbursed for office equipment and expenditures.  Alan Whitted served previously as a part-time city attorney during Mayor Fred Armstrong’s administration.

Previous Mayor Kristen Brown created an in-house. full-time city attorney position, which was later combined under a director of administration title. Jeff Logston filled that role for most of Brown’s administration and was paid $80,375 in 2014, not counting benefits, according to the Indiana State Government’s transparency website.

The four attorneys approved yesterday would be paid $146,000 and would each be responsible for different areas of city government, Alan Whitted said. Some of those duties would cover outside attorneys paid separately under Brown’s administration.

Clerk-Treasurer Luann Welmer said the previous administration had budgeted about $158,000 for the legal department this year, which included both Logston’s salary and benefits, office expenses and $34,000 for contracts with outside attorneys.

Under the new arrangement, Alan Whitted will cover attorney duties for the Board of Works, the City Council, fire and police departments  and the mayor’s office. Alex Whitted will work with planning, engineering and The Commons Board. DeArmitt will be attorney for parks, the insurance review committee, parking enforcement and other committees. Stroh will be working primarily with animal care and city aviation.

The city will also retain Stan Gamso as attorney for city utilities and redevelopment and the Board of Works approved a separate contract for Pete King for $5,000 to represent and advise the city clerk-treasurer’s office.