The City Attorney is the lawyer for the Sebastian municipal government. As a Charter Officer of the City, he works directly for the City Council and, along with the City Clerk, functions as a separate "branch" of the government distinct from the Office of the City Manager. This helps the Manager/Council form of city government operate more effectively by providing a system of "checks and balances" to ensure that the otherwise broad-based powers of city management remain within the limits of its authority.
Lawyers traditionally serve three different functions for their clients - counselor, solicitor and attorney. As counselor to the City government, the City Attorney gives advice as to the best legal means to accomplish the policies set by the City Council. Functioning as the City's solicitor, the City Attorney drafts contracts, ordinances and other legal documents utilized by the government. The remaining final function of a lawyer, the attorney element, requires that the City Attorney stand as the official representative of the City such as in the courtroom and in other proceedings.
Due to the nature of his job and the ethical rules governing attorneys, the Office of the City Attorney, unlike most City departments, has few direct dealings with Sebastian citizens or members of the public. Instead, legal concerns are brought to the attorney by City Council members or members of the staff. Despite this necessary limitation on the interaction of the City Attorney directly with the public, he is required to live within the City and many of you know him from "unofficial" activities in the community. However, keeping the line of communication on business matters directly between the City Attorney and other City officials protects the legal interests of the City, and allows maximum efficiency as well as cost savings for this office.
Every year when the state legislature goes into session, more legal requirements and restrictions are placed on local governments. What were once simple rules for city governments have become increasingly complex. Until late 1998, the City of Sebastian had always contracted with private attorneys to provide the services of the City Attorney. In October of 1998, the City appointed the first full-time Sebastian City Attorney. Since that time the City has spent less on legal services than had been expended the previous five years under the contract attorney system.
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