Wausau city council members in June approved giving City Attorney Ann Jacobson sole discretion in hiring outside legal counsel for amounts less than $25,000.
It’s the second change to the city's procurement policy in the past year. A prior change allowed Jacobson oversight of hiring outside attorneys, but on Tuesday, the council went a step further and gave Jacobson full control. Where legal expenses are expected to exceed $25,000, however, Jacobson must notify the finance committee for approval.
The move should eliminate the confusion that happened in November when Dean Dietrich of Ruder Ware oversaw a Wausau human services report on then-Alderman Keene Winters. Tipple approved hiring Dietrich without Jacobson's knowledge, according to internal emails and memos, something Jacobson objected to.
Though Wausau has two attorneys on staff, the city spent about $86,000 in 2015 for outside legal services. Contract attorneys are generally hired to address matters outside the city attorneys' areas of expertise or when a larger staff is necessary.