Decatur County commissioners unanimously voted to appoint Bainbridge attorney Bruce Kirbo Jr. to the position of Decatur County Attorney at their Tuesday meeting.
The meeting began at 9 a.m. and after re-appointing Beverly King as county clerk, commissioners took the unusual move to go into closed executive session at 9:04 a.m. Normally, commissioners hold executive sessions after all of the meeting’s other business has been completed. The stated purpose for the closed session was to discuss a personnel matter. The next item of business on the meeting agenda was “Appoint County Attorney.”
There were approximately 50 people in attendance at the meeting, including several county department heads and other county employees, as well as citizens. Officials who were in the audience and were scheduled to appear before commissioners later in the meeting included Sheriff Wiley Griffin, Warden Elijah McCoy, Fire and Rescue Chief Charlie McCann, County Public Works Superintendent Dennis Medley and Rick McCaskill, executive director of the Decatur County Development Authority.
Decatur County commissioners did not return to the open meeting until 9:54 a.m.
At that time, Chairman Brinson said commissioners had decided to appoint Kirbo Jr. as county attorney, to succeed current county attorney Brown Moseley. Moseley asked not to be re-appointed in December; he will serve in the role until Feb. 1, per commissioners’ agreement.
Should commissioners have discussed appointment in open meeting?
It was not clear whether county commissioners violated the Georgia Open Meetings Act by holding the closed session, assuming they discussed the appointment of the county attorney. Brinson did say that commissioners had discussed in executive session the issue of when current county attorney Brown Moseley’s last day would be.
Among the permitted exemptions for government agencies to hold closed meetings include:
“Meetings when discussing or deliberating upon the appointment, employment, compensation, hiring, disciplinary action or dismissal, or periodic evaluation or rating of a public officer or employee or interviewing applicants for the position of the executive head of an agency”
However, government agencies are not required to release:
“Records that consist of confidential evaluations submitted to, or examinations prepared by, a governmental agency and prepared in connection with the appointment or hiring of a public officer or employee.”
County attorney’s compensation
Kirbo will receive a $3,000 monthly retainer ($125 an hour for the first 24 hours). He will also be paid an hourly rate of $125–equal to his normal rate–for any overtime he works on behalf of the county.
Any time spent in a courtroom or mediation will not be included in the monthly rate; there will also be a maximum limit placed on the county attorney’s overtime, according to Brinson.
By comparison, Moseley was also receiving a $3,000 monthly retainer; on average, this covered approximately 40-50 hours according to county records. His hourly rate was $100; however, there were no limits placed on the amount commissioners compensated Moseley for work not covered under his retainer.
Reached by phone after the meeting, Kirbo said he planned to attend Board of Commissioners meetings “when requested by the commissioners.”
Kirbo Jr. also serves as the appointed attorney for the Decatur County Board of Education. He formerly served as the appointed attorney for the City of Bainbridge for several years.
He graduated from the University of Georgia Law School in 1982 and has been practicing law in Bainbridge ever since. His firm is Bruce Kirbo Jr., Attorney at Law, LLC.