The Roosevelt County Commission on Tuesday voted to accept a bid for services from local attorney Randy Knudson, who just happens to be representing a resident suing the county over a road right-of-way.
Moreover, Knudson also represents the city of Portales, with which the county has entered into legal issues in the past. Even so, county and city officials said they foresee no conflict of interest.
“I think there may be situations where he would have to disassociate with one or the other, but in reality this isn’t rare in small communities,” City Manager Gerry Depo said.
Before Knudson may enter into a contract, both county and city officials must sign a waiver stating that there would be no conflict of interest.
If the waiver is approved, Knudson will be paid $1,800 a month for his services for one year to represent Roosevelt County before his contract can be renewed.
“I don’t believe there is a conflict, but in the past there have been some issues that have arisen and we want to make sure that they both feel that there is no current conflict that would keep us from acting in that capacity,” Knudson said.
If there were a conflict, like lawsuits filed with both the city and county involved, Knudson said his partner Stephen Doerr, also a Portales city attorney, would most likely represent Portales while Knudson would defend Roosevelt County.
County Administrator Charlene Hardin believed there would be no conflict of interest.
Knudson would replace longtime county attorney Eric Dixon, who after 10 years in the position said his private business has increased fourfold.
“I don’t have a slow practice anymore so I just felt it was probably better to let the contract go to a law firm that had a little slower practice,” Dixon said.
“I enjoyed the public service, but it’s just a matter of economics. I don’t have any regrets, enjoyed my time there. I think we did a lot of good things.”
Knudson represents Monte Best is his suit against the county.
Best declined comment.
Knudson and county officials said the lawsuit is close to being resolved.
Knudson and Doerr also represent Tucumcari, Fort Sumner and Curry County.
Also at the meeting:
•Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales expressed his desire to seek an amendment to the small counties assistance act that would allow Roosevelt County to receive the $100,000 it was denied thanks to a stipulation in the act.
“That money is fairly detrimental to our budget,” County Administrator Charlene Hardin said. “It probably doesn’t sound like much, but when your other sources of income are declining it does make a big deal.”
The Roosevelt County annual budget is $6.3 million; Hardin said if eventually obtained the $100,000 would go into the general fund.
Ingle told commissioners he will work on an amendment to obtain the funds, but when and how this would happen were not discussed in detail.