Butanis appointed council attorney


The Harford County Council has appointed Bel Air lawyer Victor K. Butanis as council attorney, filling a position that has been vacant for three months.

The board voted 6-0 Tuesday to offer Mr. Butanis, the former county attorney, the job as its chief legal counsel. Councilman Robert S. Wagner was absent.

Mr. Butanis was Harford County attorney from May 1988 to January 1991, when newly elected County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann replaced him with Emory A. Plitt Jr., now a district judge.

He has been in private practice in Bel Air for four years.

As council attorney, he will be the chief adviser to the legislative branch of local government. "My objective is to give [the council] the soundest legal advice I possibly can and to maintain my objectivity in dealing with seven different personalities, each with their own agenda," said Mr. Butanis after his appointment.

He said he expects comprehensive rezoning, which the county will undertake in the next year, to be a critical part of his job because it involves "potentially significant changes to land use in Harford County, and that always generates concerns among the public and issues of a potentially legal nature."

Mr. Butanis is expected to join the council as soon as his contract is confirmed. A confirmation vote is scheduled for Tuesday.

The council attorney's post has been vacant since H. Edward Andrews III resigned Dec. 6, citing philosophical differences with the newly elected council. He had been council attorney since 1991.

Mr. Butanis, 39, is a graduate of Loyola College and the University of Baltimore. He began working for Harford County in 1983 as a litigator representing the departments of planning and zoning, parks and recreation, and public works.

He later became the county's principal trial attorney and eventually, under former County Executive Habern W. Freeman Jr., its chief legal officer.

He said his experience as an attorney for the administration will be of "great value" to the council "because I know how things generally work on the executive side . . . and there's a commonality of issues related to government law."

"I've handled just about every department in county government, so I've got a good background in all those areas and in the types of issues those areas foment," he said.

Mr. Butanis will be paid $27,500 annually for the part-time contractual position.

The council also agreed Tuesday to advertise for an auditor in local newspapers and professional publications. The position of council auditor also has been vacant since Dec. 6, when Michael Treherne resigned.

The auditor works on an annual contract and is paid by the hour, up to $24,000 a year, for specific projects assigned by the council.

Mr. Treherne was active in the council's budget approval process, which begins each April 1, and annually reviewed the audit of county finances that was conducted by an outside accounting firm.

Applications are due by March 31. It is unlikely that an auditor will be hired in time to thoroughly review the fiscal 1996 budget, council members said.

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