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Council looking to Barbara Green and firm as town attorney

Boulder firm would charge a flat $16K a month

By Mark Reaman

The Crested Butte Town Council would like to put the interim town attorney firm, Sullivan Green Seavy, into the permanent position.

Longtime Crested Butte special counsel Barbara Green would be the lead lawyer for the town but would rely on the firm’s partners for support, particularly John Sullivan, who has attended several Crested Butte Town Council meetings. The board will officially consider the move at the August 21 meeting.

The council interviewed Green and Sullivan at an afternoon work session on Tuesday, August 8. They then convened a special meeting where they held an executive session to discuss the matter behind closed doors. At the regular meeting later that night, they asked Green to return with paperwork formalizing the arrangement at the next meeting.

Green’s firm replaced attorney John Belkin, who resigned at the beginning of the summer. Green has provided legal work on various issues to the town since the 1980s.

“The council felt that we might have a qualified candidate who could step into the role and provide what we were looking for,” explained mayor Glenn Michel. “We asked them for a proposal. The council felt that given the comfort level it was worth interviewing and taking time with them before considering expanding the applicant pool if necessary.”

The firm submitted a proposal that would charge the town a flat fee of $16,000 per month. That would include the primary legal work, travel from their main office in Boulder and expenses for the trips for two council meetings a month. It would not cover long-term litigation matters, work where the developer reimburses the town for legal fees, or the Mt. Emmons matter.

“We felt a flat fee that you could count on might be easier to work with,” Green told the council at the work session. “It has worked in other locations. We looked at the workload and made our best estimate.

“We are optimistic we can hit that figure in part because of the good staff and town manager you have in Dara [MacDonald],” Green continued. “In our view she is working well and efficiently and we are comfortable with her. We need a good partnership with the town manager and you have a great staff here.”

Green and Sullivan represent other municipalities on the Western Slope. Green has also worked as a town planner and town manager. “Municipal law is an art form,” she said. “It is not a science. The attorneys in our firm talk to each other and bounce things off one another.”

While most legal matters would be covered under the flat-fee set-up, if an extraordinary situation arose such as a court case, the two parties would discuss how to pay for the additional legal service.

The council asked that a one-year contract with a six-month review be drawn up for consideration at the next meeting.

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