Fayette County touts savings by hiring in-house attorney

Fayette County taxpayers are paying significantly less for legal work after the county commission ditched a contracting process in favor of an in-house staff attorney.

Last year, the county’s legal bills totaled just over $233,000 in the first full year under in-house county attorney Scott Bennett. That cost includes not only Bennett’s salary but also payment for consulting services to two private firms and all court fees.

Two years before, when the county had a full year of contracting legal work out to the law firm of McNally, Fox and Grant, the county paid $358,000 in legal fees. County staff noted that the final full year of services from McNally, Fox and Grant did not include any litigation costs from the contentious lawsuits between Sheriff Randall Johnson and the former commission.

The figures were presented to the county commission at its recent retreat meeting.

“It’s costing us less on an annual basis,” said County Administrator Jack Krakeel.

After the new commission terminated the services of McNally, Fox and Grant, the board contracted with attorney Don Comer for interim services for a good part of the 2008 fiscal year before Bennett was hired for the full-time position.