Wayne W. Winthers, City Attorney
Gary A. Sheatz, Assistant City Attorney
The City Attorney’s office currently consists of one City Attorney and one Assistant with two support staff employees.
The City Attorneys are general municipal attorneys and represent the City in a wide variety of judicial and administrative proceedings. The City Attorney’s office represents the City in litigation matters and prosecutes violators of City laws. The Office provides legal advice to the City Council, Planning Commission, Park Planning Commission, Traffic Commission, City Departments and other agencies, boards and committees, as well as drafting ordinances, contracts, resolutions and agreements.
The City Attorney’s office mission is to be the best possible provider of effective legal services by listening to our clients' needs, providing sound and objective legal advice, respecting our clients' feelings, and maintaining our clients' trust through the development and maintenance of superior legal skills and a professional image. The City Attorney’s clients consist of the Mayor and City Council, Planning Commission, City Departments, and other advisory bodies.
Role of the City Attorney
Complex laws, a more litigious society and demands by citizens for additional services and the resulting diversification of City operations, have significantly increased the City's legal burden. One of the most important functions of the City Attorney is to render advice to the City Council to ensure that Council members' actions fall within the framework of the law. In this role the City Attorney advises the City Council on procedural and substantive legal issues, the possible legal ramifications of proposed courses of action and on matters directly affecting the conduct of City Council business, such as public meeting and conflict of interest laws.
The City Attorney is charged with the responsibility of drafting or reviewing a host of legal documents necessary for the daily operation of the City. These include contracts, leases, deeds, resolutions, ordinances, bonds, insurance, and many others.
Perhaps a more familiar and obvious role of the City Attorney is to appear in court on behalf of the City. The City Attorney represents the City in both criminal and civil matters. As the chief legal officer of the City, the City Attorney has primary responsibility for the criminal prosecution of violations of City ordinances, which includes prosecution of violations of housing and building codes, business license codes, and crimes involving the public peace, morals, and welfare. On the civil side, the City Attorney defends and sometimes initiates litigation involving personal injury liability, the environment, civil rights or personnel issues.
While the City Attorney's Office endeavors to do as much of the City's legal work as possible, certain legal issues are so specialized or require such large commitments of time over a short period, that the City contracts with outside law firms to represent the City's interest. Historically, the City has utilized outside law firms to handle matters involving eminent domain, police civil rights issues and various bond offerings.