published Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Hamilton County attorney Rheubin Taylor gets new 4-year contract

County attorney Rheubin Taylor initiates voting during a Hamilton County Commission meeting in this file photo.
County attorney Rheubin Taylor initiates voting during a Hamilton County Commission meeting in this file photo.
Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Rheubin Taylor has been on the county payroll going on 35 years, and commissioners decided Wednesday to keep the former elected official and current attorney around for four more.

Taylor's nearly $590,000, four-year contract with the county was up for renewal -- and it got a unanimous thumbs up from those at the dais during a regular commission meeting.

Commission Chairman Larry Henry said Tuesday before the vote that the agreement was a no-brainer.

"I've not heard any complaints about Rheubin at all, so I don't look to any discussion at all. Rheubin has done a good job," Henry said.

Henry was right. The only discussion came from Taylor after the vote. He said "Thank you."

The contract, a two-page legal services agreement, outlines Taylor's pay as a standard county employee, meaning his pay increases along with that of other county employees.

Taylor's last raise was in fiscal year 2012, when a 3 percent countywide raise ticked his pay up from $143,099 a year to $147,392 annually, according to Leslie Longshore, human resources department director for the county.

The agreement also stipulates that the county will furnish and maintain his office, provide current legal materials and pay his staff.

As an at-will employee, Taylor's legal agreement can be terminated by the county at any time with six months notice, or earlier upon a mutual agreement.

The contract was prepared by one of Taylor's subordinates, according to Mayor Jim Coppinger. But Coppinger said he set the terms. And the contract has not changed since Coppinger was on the commission, he said.

"Other than changing a few dates ... that's the only thing that changed," Coppinger said Tuesday.

Before becoming county attorney in 1993, Taylor first served as a commissioner -- for the first 15 years of the commission's existence. Now, he's finishing up his 20th year as county attorney, having served five four-year terms.

He said he'd like to stay for a while.

"Having been a commissioner, I understand what it's like serving not only the constituents but the county as a whole. It gives me perspective about what they do," Taylor said.

As county attorney, Taylor works for both the mayor's office and the county commission, but he said the two bodies never have butted heads too much.

"They say they each have half of me. It depends on the day which half who has," Taylor said.

On weekends, Taylor trades his law books for scripture. He's been pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church in LaFayette, Ga., for 18 years.

Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at lbrogdon@times freepress.com or 423-757-6481. Follow him on Twitter at @glbrogdoniv.

about Louie Brogdon...

Louie Brogdon began reporting with the Chattanooga Times Free Press in February 2013. Before he came to the Scenic City, Louie lived on St. Simons Island, Ga. and covered crime, courts, environment and government at the Brunswick News, a 17,000-circulation daily on the Georgia coast. While there, he was awarded for investigative reporting on police discipline and other law enforcement issues by the Georgia Press Association. For the Times Free Press, Louie covers Hamilton County ...

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