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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Ind. Gov't. - More on efforts of the Lake Station Clerk-Treasurer to obtain money for legal fees

The ILB has had three earlier entries on the efforts of the Lake Station Clerk-Treasurer to obtain money for legal fees. Today the Gary Post-Tribune reports, in a story by Karen Snelling:

LAKE STATION — There’s no money in Clerk-Treasurer Martha Kroledge’s budget to pay an attorney, but that isn’t stopping her from suing four members of the City Council.

Councilmen Keith Soderquist, Rick Long, Samual Vargas and John McDaniel were named as defendants in a lawsuit filed on Kroledge’s behalf last month.

The suit alleges the councilmen violated state law and acted in bad faith when they refused to appropriate funds to allow Kroledge to pay a lawyer.

“The council has no power to regulate, limit or determine the clark-treasurer’s terms of appointment of counsel, and the council has no discretion to deny the appropriation of necessary funds,” Highland Attorney Anthony DeBonis wrote in the lawsuit.

Kroledge, who is serving the unexpired term of the late Donna Smelley, asked the council in February for a $12,000 appropriation to retain DeBonis.

DeBonis was to be paid $175 per hour, but not more than $9,000 a year, under an agreement he reached with Kroledge.

The council budgeted $12,000 to pay its attorney, Michael Deppe.

Soderquist, the council’s president, tabled the request saying a city ordinance restricted attorney’s fees to $100 a hour. He later had the request removed from the council agenda without discussion by a 4 to 3 vote.

Deppe said state law requires the council to appropriate money to pay the clerk-treasurer’s attorney in the annual budget, if requested. However, he said the council is not required to consider a special appropriation after the budget is adopted.

“There was never a need for an attorney under Donna Smelley,” he said. “I think the council will be obligated to appropriate money for an attorney next year.”

DeBonis claims Kroledge will be irreparably harmed in carrying out her official duties if the councilmen’s action is not reversed.

But Lake Station taxpayers, he said, should not be saddled with the expense of the prosecution or defense of the lawsuit.

That cost, he said, should be borne by the four defendants.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 12, 2006 08:11 AM
Posted to Indiana Government