County expanding search for attorney

Warren County’s board of assessment appeals needs an attorney.

And it needs one soon.

The current solicitor for the board, Barry Klenowski, is under contract through March 11.

That’s not long enough. The board faces five appeals to the Warren County Court of Common Pleas and there could be legal action after that. Court deadlines are looming.

The Warren County Commissioners considered an applicant during their Wednesday meeting but tabled the vote for two weeks.

The commissioners are now looking for some new applicants.

“Upon further consideration, the Warren County Commissioners have instructed both the director of our assessment office and the chairman of the assessment appeals board to widen their search for counsel,” Commissioner John Bortz said.

The commissioners would welcome local applicants. “If any local attorneys would like to throw their hats in the ring, they may contact the assessment office,” Bortz said.

Putting off the decision is not ideal.

Klenowski advised “expedience” in filling the position.

“We asked (Chief Assessor Karen Beardsley and Assessment Appeals Board Chairman Bernard Hessley) to find counsel and they put in a pretty good effort,” Commissioner Stephen Vanco said. “When you’re looking for an attorney to handle a specialized case, you need someone with experience.”

One of the problems with locating an attorney is the parties involved in the case.

Most of the local attorneys with the proper expertise are connected in some way to at least one of the parties that find themselves in opposition to the board. Those parties include Warren General Hospital, the Warren YMCA, the Rouse Estate, the Crary Home, and Calvary Chapel.

As deadlines draw nearer, the county keeps looking.

Bortz said the board has filed for extensions, which he believes are justified under the circumstances.

“We have lost our attorney,” Bortz said. “It takes time.” He compared the timing of the loss of Klenowski to the disappearance of the best man during a wedding as the bride is making her way down the aisle.

“We have to get that addressed with all haste, and we will,” he said.