Valley Journal
Valley Journal

New city attorney needed

Editor,

In my opinion, James Raymond has served long enough (14 years) as part-time Polson city attorney. The following impact fee issue illustrates several reasons to hire a new city attorney. James wrote the impact fee ordinance 624 in 2007. At the time, the commission passed a motion to exempt from impact fees those subdivisions with preliminary approval, but James neglected to put that exemption language in the ordinance. James owned a subdivision that fit the exemption, so when he received his home building permit in September 2010, he refused to pay the impact fees. In fact, he didn’t pay his building permit fees until June 2011, which was long after beginning construction. It came to light with the commission in the summer of 2011 that James refused to pay impact fees.

In January 2012, the city paid $500 to an outside attorney to sort through Ordinance 624, and determine if James was exempt from impact fees or not. The attorney stated James was exempt from impact fees, and the ordinance was unenforceable, since it does not contain the exemption statement enacted by the commission in 2007. In March 2012, Todd Crossett was quoted as saying the city would refund about $25,000 in total impact fees, and will fix the impact fee ordinance.

I believe James took advantage of his position to delay paying his building permit fees for nine months after his permit was issued. He didn’t point out to anyone in the city that others might also be exempt from impact fees. James wrote the 2007 impact fee Ordinance 624 in a way that it was unenforceable; now should the city hire another attorney to check his work on the new Ordinance 661? James is paid $43,000 per year, and in 2010 and 2011 he attended only 67 percent of city commission meetings. James wrote into his July 2011 contract with the city that he must be given 12 months’ advance notice for his contract to be terminated. I would like to see the city of Polson give James notice of termination now.

Judy Preston
Polson

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