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What are your thoughts on county creating full-time attorney position?

Staff Report • Jan 30, 2012 at 11:42 AM

Washington County commissioners are looking to add several new positions to the county’s payroll. Given these austere times, it’s curious to see county leaders growing — not limiting — the size of local government.

The plan is to make John Rambo, who is currently paid an annual retainer of $30,000 to serve as county attorney, a full-time county employee. If all goes as planned, Rambo would supervise two staffers — new county employees who will also receive county health benefits — to be hired from his private law practice.

The question is why? Why does Washington County now need a full-time county attorney? Why should the county pay for a legal staff to assist him? Does Rambo’s current workload for the county justify the creation of a full-time position? Does a full-time attorney mean all of the county’s legal work will be done in-house, or will outside counsel be hired to assist Rambo in some cases?

Will these new positions actually save the county money on legal costs? And how do commissioners explain paying the full-time county attorney a starting salary of $148,000, which is the minimum paid to a Sessions Court judge in Washington County?

These are all questions that county officials should answer before saddling taxpayers with more bureaucracy and expense. We would also like to know what went into writing the description for this job. And if the position of a county attorney is indeed created, would it not be fair and prudent to allow other candidates to apply?

You can “Sound off” on this topic by sharing your thoughts on hiring a full-time county attorney.

Send your comments to Mailbag, P.O. Box 1717 Johnson City, TN 37605-1717, or mailbag@johnsoncitypress.com. Please include your name, telephone number and address for verification.

We will print your responses on the Opinion pages in the coming weeks.

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