By: MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia
Franklin County commissioners are at odds over whether to reduce the fee paid to the county attorney.
At their work session Tuesday night, commission board chair Thomas Bridges said he believes the county is paying attorney Bubba Samuels too much for his services.
“In talking to county commissioners and chair people across the state, they looked at me like I was strange when I told them we have a $10,000 retainer fee,” Bridges said. “In fact, most told me they either had no retainer fee or just a small retainer fee of no more than $3,000.”
Franklin County currently pays Samuels a $10-thousand dollar month retainer, under a contract agreement passed by the board in January.
Bridges said in 2012, Franklin County paid Samuels $245,431.91in legal fees.
He also said he has asked Samuels for an itemized list on his monthly statement of how that retainer is used.
Commissioners David Strickland and Robert Franklin both noted, however, that a retainer does not require an itemized list of activities and that most attorneys charge much more an hour than Samuels.
Commissioner Clint Harper said Samuels has provided valuable legal counsel to the county and is worth every penny of the $10-thousand the county pays him.
Harper said it was unfair to Samuels to suggest that Samuels is overcharging.
“I think it’s very unfair to just throw out some numbers just to see if we can get it (legal fees) down when the quality is second to none,” he said. “And the way this county is going, we better have a good lawyer because our track record is not that good when it comes to getting ourselves involved in litigation.”
No decision was made Tuesday night and the board plans to take up the matter again at their regular meeting next week.