Superior maintains status quo on legal matters

Committee skeptical city would save money by shifting outsourced legal work

Government Center in Superior
Government Center, Superior, Wisconsin. (Jed Carlson /
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Superior isn’t likely to change the way it handles legal matters without more information about how it would save the city money.

A proposal to outsource prosecution of city citations to reduce outsourced legal fees for planning work earned a dose of skepticism from the Human Resources Committee this week.

It was one of 32 recommendations made by RW Management Group to make city operations more efficient. According to the report, the city could save $30,000 with the change.

City Attorney Frog Prell said the planning legal work is highly nuanced and always changing, which is the reason the city has long relied on the Attorney Bob Tofte for the specialized work.

“There’s a wide range of specialties and niches, and most times, the license to practice law doesn’t give you automatic savvy and competence in all ranges of the law,” he said.


Prell said he would be interested in learning the specialty work, but was hard pressed to understand where the savings would come from or how staff could be reduced to part-time with the additional work in a two-person office.

“You know I’ve not been shy about my opinions of this report, and I found a lot of it astute,” Mayor Jim Paine said.

Paine doesn’t understand how the city would save money either, he said.

Legal fees for planning work are paid through tax increment districts and the economic development fund, said Jason Serck, economic development, port and planning director.

“I think we need far more explanation about where we’re going here,” Councilor Jack Sweeney said. He said there’s value to keeping the prosecutorial work in-house for continuity.

While the committee discussed changes that may need to be made in how legal matters are handled in the future, the committee directed staff to contact RW Management Group at no cost to determine the reason for the recommendation.

“If he says no, let’s move on,” Sweeney said.

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