Former Nelsonville Council Member Greg Smith racked up quite the legal bill defending himself the first time he was removed from Council in February.

And now — he and his attorney want the city to pick up the check.

According to public record invoices filed with the Nelsonville City Auditor’s website, in late May, Smith’s attorney, Columbus-area Dan Klos filed an invoice for a bill amounting to $13,403.40. Additionally, Klos said in the email he is seeking back pay for his client, to be calculated by the city.

Klos also told The Athens Messenger that Nelsonville should expect more invoices for the second Smith hearing, which happened in June.

“They’re gonna get a bill for that too,” Klos said.

An approximate calculation for how much Smith would receive in back pay based on the time he was removed to when he was restored to Council the first time is close to $300, based on a yearly stipend of $1,200.

Smith was removed first in February, was restored to Council in May, was removed briefly after that, and was restored to Nelsonville City Council last week after being off the body for less than a week.

While removed for the first time, Smith engaged in an appeals battle through The Athens County Court of Common Pleas.

In his email invoice, Klos said Nelsonville City Council’s move to rescind the finding that Smith was not a resident as a basis for legal compensation.

In his email, Klos wrote “the cost of defense (is) due to Mr. Smith through this office by reason of his removal being rescinded by the Council by unanimous vote on May 13, 2021 which resulted in his not being “finally removed.”

According to the city charter, “if a person accused is not finally removed, the City shall pay the reasonable costs of the defense of such persons and any compensation withheld pending the appeal of the action of the Council.”

Klos told The Athens Messenger that based on the city charter, he believes the city owes him money for services since they reinstated Smith.

He added he believes the city has violated his client’s rights to due process at every turn.

City Council Vice President Dan Sherman disagreed, saying only small errors were made, which the city is now correcting.{p dir=”ltr”}“They think it’s over,” Sherman said. “It’s not over — there were a few procedural hiccups — but that’s it.”

Nelsonville City Council President Tony Dunfee disagreed with Klos, and said the city did not lose the legal battle against Smith, but rather the appeals ended in a ‘no-contest’ situation.

“We didn’t lose, we rescinded the motion to correct the procedural problems,” Dunfee said.

Sherman said he laughed when he saw the invoice.

“That’s a joke,” Sherman said of the invoice.

The invoice itself reflects a lengthy legal process. To date, Smith has paid Klos $10,000 of the $13,400 owed.

Some highlighted charges from the invoice:

  • For the February 19th hearing, research, travel and representation cost over $1,000
  • Over $2,000 to prepare the temporary restraining order (TRO) that was dismissed by the court.
  • Hundreds of dollars of court filing fees.
  • Over $1,000 in telephone conference fees
  • Over $700 in fees for court appearances during appeals hearings.

Nelsonville City Auditor Taylor Sappington said he does not plan to fulfill the invoice because Klos did not follow the process.

“Sure an invoice was turned into my inbox — but there would have to be a lot of things before the city wrote a check for that certainly,” Sappington said. “If I wrote a check at this point — it would be a waste of taxpayer dollars.”

“They think it’s over,” Sherman said. “It’s not over — there were a few procedural hiccups — but that’s it.”

Sappington said Council is not part of the purchasing process for the city, and typically a head of a city department approves invoices in advance.

Sappington added that the invoice could be considered punitive to the average Nelsonville resident, to see their income taxes go toward legal damages. He added the city has spent less than $13,000 on repair of city vehicles this year, to highlight what he said was an unreasonable sum requested by Klos

“They’re asking us to pay some out-of-town attorney for nothing, it’s just a waste,” Sappington said.

Klos said if he does not receive his compensation for services from Nelsonville, he has options, such as the Athens County Court of Common Pleas.

He explained to the Athens Messenger that he has not dismissed the appeal that exists from the original hearing in the courts yet, and will proceed with that based on how current action pans out.

Smith’s ongoing struggle with Nelsonville City Council, which has been explosive at times, is over whether he is a resident of Nelsonville. Members of City Council argue he does not live continuously in Nelsonville, but rather in neighboring Washington County, which they say is a violation of the city charter.

Smith and Klos maintain he only maintains one residence, on Adams Street in Nelsonville.

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