The city of Ramsey hired attorney Frederick Knaack, of Holstad & Knaak, as the new city attorney Sept. 28.
The City Council terminated the contract with current city attorney Joseph Langel, of Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, effective Nov. 1. Kuzma was the sole vote against.
“I felt that Ratwik has done a good job for us the past eight years,” Kuzma said.
Knaack’s contract is good for two years. It was approved 5-2, with Mayor Mark Kuzma and Council Member Matt Woestehoff dissenting.
Woestehoff said of the final two candidates, he would have preferred the other option.
“I am excited to work with [Knaak] as he comes on board,” Woestehoff said. “I believe he is a very smart individual, and I think he will do a good job as a city attorney, but I will not be voting in favor of this motion.”
The city will pay Knaack $4,050 a month for his services, according to the contract. The city will pay $150 an hour for services if more than 10 hours on litigation matters are required. Any other costs will be approved by the city as they come up.
Kuzma is concerned the new contract could cost the city more than the current contract.
Langel’s retainer cost $3,125 a month, and the city paid $500 for each meeting he attended. The firm also charged $175 per hour for contested case matters, $155 for investigations or labor negotiations, $155 an hour for property matters and $185 for development matters. Other costs included transportation and parking.
“I believe they were more expensive, and our alternative is actually fiscally more conservative,” Council Member Ryan Heineman said.
Woestehoff said the council doesn’t have a beneficial working relationship with Langel.
“Whether or not the future attorney saves us money or not, to me, it’s not about that — it’s about the value and relationship we have,” Woestehoff said.