Chris O'Neill

O’Neill

The city of Bald Knob has hired a new city attorney.

The Bald Knob City Council on Monday night approved the hiring of Chris O’Neill to replace Don Raney, who will remain the city’s prosecutor.

“Don is just so busy that we can’t get things as fast as we want to,” Mayor Barth Grayson said concerning the decision.

O’Neill was present at the meeting and during the discussion of his salary said, “Typically, my hourly [rate] for municipalities is $150. My private practice is between $200 and $250 [per hour].” The council agreed to pay him the municipality rate.

Grayson asked O’Neill what he would charge for telephone calls, saying that he has seen attorney’s charge $20 per call. O’Neill responded, “I’m not going to sit there and run the clock on these telephone calls. I want people to be able to call and bounce ideas off me and not think I’m reaching into the city’s pocket and everything. Now if it’s an intense planning call or something else where we’re on topic, I might run the clock on that.

“I don’t do that in my private practice either because that is a pet peeve of mine. I don’t want somebody to not be able to call their attorney because they think that attorney is just going to be reaching into their pocketbook just to try to answer any questions or anything else. I want people to be able to contact me when they have any kind of question whatsoever. I can pretty much promise you for any billing I do for the city or anything else, I’m going to have realistically more time in it then whatever I submitted.”

Council member David Smith made the motion for the city to hire O’Neill and revisit the decision April 1. The hiring was unanimously approved, although Ella White and Mary Lou Smith were absent.

“It is a pleasure serving you,” O’Neill said after the decision. “I look forward to working with this community. I will attend every City Council meeting. I will be here and I will make sure all the council members have my cellphone number if they have a question, feel free to call me on it.”

Grayson asked him if he would charge for attending the meeting, and O’Neill said, “No. Being at the actual meetings is if anything else is to keep me in the loop because that way I know what’s going on.”

O’Neill, who is from Heber Springs, also is the city attorney for Pangburn and prosecuting attorney for Pangbun, Beebe and Bradford. He said he attended Arkansas State University, where he majored in business administration, then attended law school at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

“I started practicing law in 2015,” he said. “Along with my municipal positions, I maintain a general practice law office in Beebe. I’m passionate about the practice of law and I’m blessed to be able to have a career doing what I love. My municipalities compose a large part of my practice and it is an honor working with these great cities. I’m looking forward to working with Bald Knob moving forward.”

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