05/28/04 — City officials to resume budget talks Tuesday

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City officials to resume budget talks Tuesday

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on May 28, 2004 1:59 PM

City budget talks will resume Tuesday, with discussions scheduled on the city attorney's budget and an itemized list of what Goldsboro gets for the $33,000 it pays a local cable television station.

City Manager Richard Slozak is contacting other cities to see what they pay their city attorneys.

"I'm doing a survey of what legal services an in-house attorney gives cities compared to having an attorney working eight hours a day," Slozak said.

It's the second time the city has conducted a similar survey within the past six years. In 1998, a group of citizen's protested how much City Attorney Harrell Everett was paid and called for the city to hire a full-time lawyer.

At the time Everett was being paid $46,000. This year he made $60,000 for his retainer fee, plus $90,000 in additional legal expenses. The projected budget for 2004-2005 will give him an additional $30,000 because of expected annexation litigation.

During the 1998 study, Slozak looked at Kinston, Greenville, Wilmington, Raleigh, Rocky Mount and Wilson. His conclusion in 1998 was that the city was getting a bargain with its arrangement with Everett.

In published reports from 1998, Slozak said that retaining Everett was like having four lawyers because Everett's partners and associates specialize in certain areas.

Slozak says that Everett is a full-time city attorney who gets paid a salary, and that entitles him to state retirement benefits. Mayor Al King and Mayor Pro Tem Chuck Allen have said Everett is paid a retainer.

Whether Everett is entitled to state retirement benefits is now being decided by the state attorney general's office.

The council is also expecting a written list of what services the city receives for the $33,000 it pays Parker Advertising each year. Parker Advertising owns PACC-10 TV, which tapes the council's meetings.

Councilman Chuck Allen first questioned the payment during budget sessions in 2000 and was told by Slozak that it was for video services that PACC-10 performed for the city.

Allen and former Councilman Tom Barwick said there should be an itemized bill.

The subject has come up in subsequent budget work sessions, including last year's session when the council almost cut the payment.

Slozak said he was still working on putting together the itemized list.

The proposed budget contains no tax increases, but sewer rates will go up 15 percent.

The $39 million proposed budget is a 7 percent increase over last year's budget, which was $36.3 million.

Tuesday's budget meeting will begin at 11 a.m. and will be held in the conference room next to the city manager's office.