Montezuma County likely to pay ‘quite a bit more’ for attorney

The Montezuma County commissioners’ recent decision not to rehire long-time county attorney Bob Slough has left the county scrambling to obtain interim legal services while advertising for new counsel. Slough had been the county attorney for 26 years.

He served both as the attorney for the commission and for the social-services department, an arrangement that is unusual, according to county Administrator Ashton Harrison. “What we had with Bob was kind of an exception,” Harrison said. “The counties I’m familiar with, it’s more typical that a social-services attorney is different from the county attorney.”

The commission at its Jan. 14 meeting voted 2-1 not to renew Slough’s contract, with Steve Chappell and Keenan Ertel in favor of the motion and Larry Don Suckla dissenting. Ertel, who made the motion, said later that it was “time for a change.”

The sudden decision meant many ongoing social-services cases had to be postponed.

Dolores County attorney Dennis Golbricht is now working with Montezuma County on an interim basis to handle socialservices cases involving dependency and neglect. “He’s just helping us out temporarily,” Harrison said.

The county had to file for an extension until March 13 on cases involving child support, Harrison said.

The Durango firm of Goldman, Robbins and Nicholson has agreed to provide counsel for the commission while a permanent attorney is sought.

The county has been offering a salary of $110,000 to $150,000 per year for an attorney, depending on whether he or she is willing to take on the social-services duties. Applications are due Feb. 28.

Harrison told the Free Press on Jan. 31 that he was planning to recommend to the commissioners that they advertise for a separate attorney to handle social-services cases on a contract basis.

He said the new arrangement will be considerably more expensive than the old one with Slough, although he would not know exactly how much more until agreements were reached with the new legal counsel.

“It’s going to cost more – quite a bit more,” Harrison said. “I knew the moment it happened that I would have to do some work with the budget.”

In addition to the higher costs of employing one or more new attorneys, the county attorney will need an office and other support such as specialized software and services, Harrison said. Slough had paid his own rent.

From February 2013.