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City of Vero Beach seeking new, permanent legal counsel

VERO BEACH — The City of Vero Beach has been without a permanent City Attorney since March, but the search is on to replace Charles Vitunac.

With four members remaining after Councilman Brian Heady excused himself late into Tuesday’s regular meeting, the Vero Beach City Council voted 3-1 to begin advertising for a new City Attorney.

Councilwoman Tracy Carroll had tried to bring the issue up at the last city council meeting under a discussion of charter officers. Vice Mayor Pilar Turner supported the effort, but it was decided that the public had not been noticed that the council would be taking up the matter.

This time, Carroll requested the item be placed on the agenda and properly noticed so it could be voted on.

Councilman Craig Fletcher said advertising the job was long overdue.

“We need to get this online as soon as possible,” Fletcher said.

Mayor Jay Kramer was the sole dissenting vote.

Human Resources Manager Robert Anderson said he would develop a pay range for the job based on salary surveys of communities comparable in size to vero. Anderson said he would also distribute copies of the current City Attorney job description to the council members so they could mark it up to reflect the city’s current needs.

Some areas of expertise the council members mentioned that the new City Attorney would need are transactions such as sales, acquisitions and mergers; labor relations and business law. Some matters the new City Attorney would be dealing with immediately would be negotiating the exit of the Orlando Utilities Commission contract, advising the council on the ongoing talks with Florida Power and Light and evaluating FP&L’s Letter of Intent to purchase the electric utility.

The job will be posted on the City of Vero Beach website and on various websites that Indian River County utilized to find County Attorney Alan Polackwich last year.

As the City Attorney is a charter officer who reports directly to the Vero Beach City Council, the council members will be evaluating the resumes and narrowing down the field to possibly four or five people that the council would interview in person or via Skype as was done with the city manager candidates.

Assistant City Attorney Wayne Coment has been serving as Acting City Attorney for the past few months and, as an interim measure, the council approved an extension of Coment’s employment agreement in his interim capacity. Vero has one additional Assistant City Attorney, Peggy Lyon on staff.

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