Sunnyside will continue to contract out attorney services

SUNNYSIDE -- The Sunnyside City Council agreed informally Monday to continue contracting with an outside law firm next year rather than hiring a staff attorney.

Though they didn't take formal action at Monday's workshop, council members directed City Manager Mark Gervasi to negotiate a contract for legal representation with Yakima firm Menke, Jackson, Beyer, Ehlis and Harper, said Mayor Jim Restucci.

The Yakima firm has represented the city since June 2009 when the Council fired then City Manager Eric Swansen and longtime City Attorney Mark Kunkler resigned in protest.

Some council members had asked Gervasi to explore the idea of hiring a new staff attorney.

In response, the Yakima firm reduced its rates from $144,000 per year to $108,000 per year.

That includes at least $160 per hour for requests outside the scope of the contract.

The contract would cover 2012 though the city could back out virtually at anytime, Restucci said.