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County rehires its attorney

County Attorney Bruce Snow on Tuesday was hired to stay another year on the same terms as his current contract.

But he was rehired with the understanding that the terms might change.

Commissioners June Ester and Ginny Brown-Waite questioned two aspects of the contract.

Ester thought that routine eminent domain cases, in which the county acquires the right to land it needs for projects, could be handled by the county's two other lawyers. Snow currently is paid extra for these services, beyond his base salary of $72,000.

Brown-Waite questioned the additional payments he receives when he acts as the lawyer when the county issues bonds. She wanted a study showing how many other counties use their attorneys for such purposes.

The study that Brown-Waite suggested could be redundant. The county last year performed an extensive survey of the contracts of other county attorneys. It showed that Snow's salary was average, but that it was unusual for a county the size of Hernando to employ a part-time attorney.

She was also the only one who voted against the motion to rehire Snow.

But the motion was made, said Tony Mosca, who introduced it, with the understanding that Snow's contract could be amended.

The issues raised by Ester and Brown-Waite will be discussed at a future meeting, he said. Mosca favored renewing the contract Tuesday because Snow has not been paid since the beginning of the new budget year on Oct. 1.

Brown-Waite, who has resigned to run for the state Senate, was the first one to make Snow's position an election issue, and it is a question that many challengers have raised in this year's race.

Several, including Pat Novy in District 1, have said that because Snow's contract with the county is not full-time and allows him to have other clients it leaves open the possibility for conflicts of interests.

Novy said in an interview Monday that she was especially concerned that Snow, because the confidentiality of his clients is protected, is not required to tell the county for whom he is working.

The bond question gained special prominence last year, after it was revealed that Snow had received $434,000 in fees for his part in $300-million bond pool the county issued in 1986 but has never used.