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Council members cite cost reductions and expertise.

Salida City Attorney Geoff Wilson displays his Sue O’Brien Award, presented to him in honor of a legal career dedicated to the principles of open and transparent government. Joining Wilson are Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition Executive Director Jeff Roberts, a former Denver Post reporter and editor (left), and CFOIC President Steve Zansberg, who presented the award (courtesy photo).

Salida City Council voted unanimously to retain Geoff Wilson as city attorney Tuesday, Nov. 6, during the regular city council meeting.

Recognizing Councilman Bowers’ October request to find a permanent city attorney, City Administrator Drew Nelson introduced the idea of removing “the interim tag” from Wilson’s title to make him city attorney for Salida.

“You have had a year-long interview process with Mr. Wilson, and you have the ability to remove the interim tag should you see fit. You also have the ability to go out and research other rates for comparable services,” said Nelson.

Nelson added, “I can attest that, in the past five weeks of working with (Wilson’s law firm), that they’ve been nothing but topnotch and professional.” Nelson also said that he’d “heard no complaints” from staff regarding Wilson’s services.

“You have a bank of options,” Nelson said, but one of those is to “remove the interim tag and operate under the existing contract with Mr. Wilson’s firm.”

Councilman Shore commented that it is his understanding “that we’ve operated with significant cost savings relative to the previous attorney.”

“About half,” replied Mayor Pro Tem Cheryl Brown-Kovacic.

Councilman Harald Kasper made a motion to pass a resolution formalizing Wilson’s contract as city attorney by removing the “interim” tag.

Upon passage of the resolution, Wilson thanked council, saying, “I’m honored. … I’ve really enjoyed working with the staff. It’s been very rewarding.”

Asked about the decision to formalize Wilson’s role as city attorney, Mayor P.T. Wood said, “He’s been with the city for almost a year now, and they’ve done a really exemplary job at a really reasonable price.”

Wood also noted that Wilson’s law firm, Murray, Dahl, Beery and Renaud LLP, is one of the most reputable law firms in the state, especially when it comes to matters of municipal law.

After the meeting Wilson said, “I have really come to adore this place; in some respects it reminds me of the quirky, endearing town on ‘Northern Exposure.’ I grew up in a small town myself, so I appreciate the community and the close quarters engagement that comes with that.

“Yes, it can be rough at times, but it’s worth it. … We’re all arguing about how to keep Salida a great place.”