Lynch-Dallas replaces Johnson as FM city attorney


Firm advises city to reinstate Construction Board of Appeals after public comments at last City Council meeting.


FORT MADISON - With a move two weeks ago at the Fort Madison City Council meeting, attorney Robert Johnson has been replaced by a Cedar Rapids firm as Fort Madison's ongoing city attorney.

Lynch-Dallas P.C., a firm that has been has been providing legal services for the city on a myriad of issues in the past, was installed officially as the city's attorney at the last City Council meeting.

City Manager David Varley said the move was part of restructuring of city legal representatives and was mutually agreed upon separation.

"I think it was a combination of things, including his decision to retire (as city attorney) and we were at a point in time to make a change and do this," Varley said Monday.

Johnson has been serving as the city's attorney for the past 40 years, being sworn in on Jan. 2, 1980.

The city may continue to use Johnson for some real estate issues, Varley said, but Lynch-Dallas will take over regular city attorney responsibilities. He said the firm may not be represented at every meeting, but they will be accessible and may be present via telephone for meetings.

"We don't need the presence at most meetings. It will depend on what's on the agenda. They will be on a call a lot of meetings," Varley said.

The city also hired Ed Harvey out of Mt. Pleasant on a part-time basis as a municipal prosecutor. Harvey is not associated with Lynch-Dallas. Lynch-Dallas also holds contracts for services with Fort Madison Community School District, and the Lee County Board of Supervisors for legal services.

"We're also adding a prosecutor so we can do more of our own prosecution of municipal court," Varley said. "That's an advantage for us as far as being proactive with municipal violations, so it will work out good for both us. It's a win-win."

Lynch-Dallas also provides the city with other legal specialists and gives the city broader coverage.

The agreement requires the city pay $170 per hour for associates at the firm with more than six years experience, $150 for associates and $100 for legal assistants. The firm would also be reimbursed for fees for filing, postage, mileage, digital legal searches and copies.

Attorneys would bill at half-rate for travel time, plus the mileage reimbursement.

At the upcoming City Council meeting on Tuesday, the council will consider approving an ordinance to re-establish the city's Construction Board of Appeals.

At last Tuesday's meeting, several contractors spoke up about some inconsistencies in applications of city code by Building Director Doug Krogmeier.

According to a report from Krogmeier, the city eliminated the board several years ago as part of an effort to clean up boards that were no longer functional or appropriate.

"Because of recent events, it has become evident that the City needs to have such a board in place to hear appeals," Krogmeier wrote in the report to the City Council.

"Lynch-Dallas has also expressly informed us that this board needs to be re-established as quickly as possible."

The agenda shows a suspension of the second and third readings. typically required to change city code, to expedite the re-creation of the board.

The board will have two primary purposes: to review new building codes for adoption and to hold hearings on appeals of decisions and code interpretations made by the building department.

The mayor has submitted the names of Krist Roach, Tom Schulz, Glenda Schneider, Ronald Walker and Doug Kenel to serve staggering terms on the five-person board.

Other agenda items include:
• a first reading of an ordinance redefining how far city employee's residences must be from city limits.
• a resolution to approve plans and award the contract for the Great River Health System-Fort Madison Community Hospital Community Foundation trail that runs from the high school to Rodeo Park, to Jones Contracting for $1.2 million.

attorney, Cedar Rapids, city, contract, fort madison, Lynch Dallas, Pen City Current, Robert Johnson


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