Jan. 14, 2013 — In a move Carter County Attorney Patrick Flannery called “retaliatory,” Judge-Executive Charles Wallace paid outside attorney fees with money that was originally slated to go to Flannery and his child support staff.
According to financial records presented each month to the fiscal court, $1,500 was paid to Richard “Sonny” Martin, the attorney who represented the county in recent litigation, on Nov. 21. Scott White, an attorney representing the fiscal court in another legal battle, was paid $1,287.55 on Dec. 19. Both of those payments were taken from the budget line item labeled “legal services.” Until the current fiscal year, that line item was labeled “County attorney salary.”
Wallace confirmed all bills come through his office, and his staff assigns the account for which a bill should be paid based on the corresponding department. This task is completed by staff, not the county treasurer.
The Journal-Times discovered the irregularity and asked Flannery for comment.
“I can see why they would use the line item called ‘legal services’ in order to pay the outside attorneys,” Flannery said. “The issue for later is ‘Where is that money going to come from?’”
When the budget was passed in June, the legal services line item had $24,000, which is what the county attorney is to be paid. Flannery said even if the fiscal court wanted to, it could not cut his salary to pay outside legal counsel.
Flannery was more concerned with a payment made to White on Oct. 17. According to the treasurer’s report, $848.59 was paid to White, but came out of the budget line item slated to pay the salaries of the county’s child support workers.
In the past, the county acted as a financing agent for the child support payroll. Essentially, according to Flannery, the county would pay the child support staff and be reimbursed with state funds once Flannery had submitted the necessary information.