Acting Vero Attorney on short list for Seminole County job

VERO BEACH — Acting Vero Beach City Attorney Wayne Coment told the City Council Friday that he will be interviewing next week for the job of Seminole County Attorney.

Coment, who worked for the City of Vero Beach from 1997 to 1998 and then returned as Assistant City Attorney in the summer of 2002, said he applied for the Seminole County job a few months ago during the termination of former City Attorney Charles Vitunac.

The impetus for notifying the City Council was that Seminole told him the names of the finalists would soon be made public.

According to the job description posted on the website of Georgia-based executive search firm Slavin Management consultants, the office of the Seminole County Attorney consists of 16 employees, including nine lawyers and support staff.

There is no salary posted with the position, but Coment said he thinks he saw a figure that the job “topped out at $160,000.”

Coment recently had to resign from a second job as attorney for the Indian River County Code Enforcement Board due to his increased duties at the city. He said he was working for the County on his furlough days off from Vero and that he will only work one more day for the County before that relationship is concluded.

The Board of County Commissioners last month replaced Coment with a new attorney. According to county records, Coment took on the extra work last summer and earned less than $1,000 on average per month working for the Code Enforcement Board.

Coment said he has no personal or family ties to Seminole County, except for some history of studying in Orlando.

“I went to the University of Central Florida, so I know the area,” Coment said. “And there has been a lot of turmoil around here.”

Seminole County spans between the greater Orlando area and Daytona Beach. The county has a budget of $774 million, of which operating and capital budgets total $482 million.

The County Attorney is a charter officer who reports directly to a five-member County Commission.

The current Seminole County Attorney, Robert McMillan, is set to retire soon after 26 years of service.

Coment said that if he is chosen by the Seminole County Commission that he would like to give the city as much notice as possible. Coment has no employment contract with Vero.

“I certainly would not want to just leave (Assistant City Attorney) Peggy (Lyon) in the lurch or to leave the city in a lurch,” Coment said. “I would take as much time as they would allow me.”

Coment and Lyons have been handling legal matters for the city since Vitunac retired in March amidst termination proceedings. Coment said that he believes that after the electric, water and sewer issues are settled, that the city could manage with only two attorneys.

In the interim, however, the City Council has chosen to outsource some utility legal work to the Gray Robinson law firm out of Orlando. Gray Robinson works in conjunction with GAI Consultants, the firm which is under contract with Vero for about a half million dollars in consulting work at present.Vero also hires outside counsel to handle most labor disputes and complaints.

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