Richard Lerblance said additional duties and an outdated pay scale led to his resignation as Hartshorne’s city attorney.
The Hartshorne-based attorney said he resigned during Tuesday’s city meeting after councilors did not pass a raise for his position because he felt the pay did not meet the time required for the job.
Although councilors later approved a raise to double the pay during new business, the longtime Hartshorne resident said he would not return to the role.
“I’ve enjoyed working with the city,” Lerblance said. “I still care about the city.”
Raises for the city attorney and city judge were brought up to the Hartshorne council a year ago, but Lerblance requested the items be stricken at that time due to a budget crunch.
Lerblance said he brought it back to the council after having more duties placed on him this year.
“There’s just been more directed to me,” Lerblance said. He said some of the extra duties include occasionally taking meeting minutes and roll call in place of the city clerk, preparing city meetings after those meetings,and more.
“It felt like they’re asking more of me than what they’re paying for and I just felt like it’s time for a raise,” Lerblance said.
Lerblance was paid $300 per month since being hired as Hartshorne’s city attorney in 2015. The rate had remained the same for years, according to city officials.
Hartshorne’s financial committee discussed a raise for the position during the Aug. 26 special meeting and recommended raising the city attorney’s pay to $400 per month.
Lerblance said he worked for the city at the $300 rate and averaged about 20 hours per month — which he said is the equivalent of thousands of dollars of legal work.
A motion to raise the city attorney’s pay to $800 per month failed after a council vote of 4-3, with one abstaining, during the Tuesday meeting. Lerblance issued a verbal resignation after the vote and exited the meeting.
Councilors brought the item up again under new business at the end of the meeting and voted to approve a raise for the city attorney to $800 per month.
Lerblance said the raise to $800 per month was a substantial increase, but he did not feel like it met the time required for the job.
Lerblance attended Hartshorne Public Schools through high school, where he graduated in 1964. His father, Dr. W.P. Lerblance, Jr., previously served as mayor.
Richard Lerblance opened a law practice in Hartshorne in 1979. He is a former District 7 state senator and District 17 state representative. He also serves as chief justice of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Supreme Court.
Contact Adrian O’Hanlon III at [email protected]