By Bill Miller Jr.
Missourian Staff Writer
The Franklin County Commission Tuesday reappointed Mark Vincent as county counselor for 2013.
The commission also reappointed Union attorney Joseph Purschke and the law firm of Purschke, White, Robinson & Becker LLC as assistant county counselors.
That action drew objections from two regular critics of the county commission who argued that Purschke’s firm had never been officially appointed in the past and, therefore, couldn’t be reappointed.
Art LeBeau, Villa Ridge, asked the commission to table or strike the portion of the order reappointing Purschke and his law firm.
“If this is passed today, yes, another lawsuit will be filed that (because) it doesn’t meet the statutes,” LeBeau said during the public comment portion of the commission meeting.
LeBeau has been a plaintiff in two recent lawsuits against the county — one challenging a commission resolution to refinance bonds and another challenging the establishment of the county’s municipal court.
Eric Reichert, also of Villa Ridge, made the same point that the commission cannot reappoint individuals who have never been officially appointed by commission order. He also questioned why the assistant county counselors would be paid through funds budgeted for the county municipal court.
“The legal workload of the county should be able to be easily provided by a full-time counsel and an assistant counsel, excluding additional attorneys,” Reichert said, reading from a prepared statement. “Surely the county does not require a complete law firm as the present counsel has publicly stated that he would personally defend the county in any lawsuits.”
Vincent will be paid $115,000 annually which is the same amount he received last year when the commission decided to make him a full-time employee. Vincent has represented the county since November of 1990.
Vincent said Purschke has served in the capacity of assistant county counselor for the past 10 years and that his firm has represented the county before in various matters including planning and zoning cases.
In August, the commission appointed Purschke and his law firm as the county’s first prosecuting attorney for the county’s new municipal court. The commission set the compensation for the combined duties of prosecuting attorney and assistant county counselor at $5,500 per month.
According to the commission order, Purschke is employed as an independent contractor and the $5,500 is compensation both for duties as prosecuting attorney and assistant county counselor except for cases filed in federal court, appeals beyond circuit court and jury trials arising from the county municipal court.
Under the arrangement, Purschke is responsible for all of the expenses of running the county municipal court prosecuting attorney’s office including secretarial services, telephones, computers, postage, and utilities.