LUMBERTON — Almost a year after the resignation of longtime Robeson County Attorney Hal Kinlaw, Kinlaw is still being paid to help the county with legal matters and there is a no hard information on when the county commissioners will hire a new full-time attorney.
County Manager Ricky Harris said this week that since Kinlaw’s resignation in June 2013, he has been paid $50,000 for 10 months work. He continues to do work for the county on a retainer of $5,000 a month, Harris said.
“Hal is being paid no other monies,” Harris said. “He is assisting in closing cases (for the county) mainly at DSS and responding to legal questions from other departments. He is not currently the attorney for any department.”
Kinlaw, the county’s attorney since 1990, was receiving a salary from the county of about $180,000 a year when he resigned. He resigned after it became public that he was being sued by BB&T for about $17 million in unpaid loans. Kinlaw has said that the debt resulted from bad investment scenarios relating to property that is mostly located in Onslow County.
Commissioner David Edge said having Kinlaw still working for the county is beneficial.
“Hal is just doing us a favor,” Edge said. “He has a great deal of knowledge and his suggestions to us are invaluable. We need an attorney. We didn’t ask him to resign.
“Hal is not mooching off the county,” he said. “The county is mooching off him.”
The search for a new attorney began in July. Since then, there have been three interim attorneys. Currently the interim attorney is Kim Jones, who also works for the county’s Department of Social Services. She is being paid $600 a month for each commissioners’ meeting she attends.
Gary Locklear, a former Superior Court judge, is also assisting as an interim attorney. Doug Murray, a former Lumberton resident who now lives in Wilmington, also worked as the interim attorney for a while.
Harris on Thursday said he diddn’t have numbers on how much all of the interim attorneys had been paid but said he would provide that information to The Robesonian as soon as he could.
In late November, Commissioner Roger Oxendine told The Robesonian that the hiring of an attorney was near. He said at that time that second interviews with three finalists had already been held and a final decision was close. Originally, Oxendine said, five candidates had been interviewed by the commissioners.
But The Robesonian has learned that the candidate offered the job declined and accepted another position. The commissioners then had to start the process all over again, the newspaper was told.