Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) The Missoula City Council on Monday night made good on the mayor's request to divide the City Attorney's Office into two offices focused uniquely on prosecution and civil services.

While the move could come with new salary expenses in the upcoming budget, Mayor Andrea Davis said it doesn't create any new full-time positions and won't change the current city budget.

“We'll be working with the staff members in both of those offices to structure the way these city attorneys can hone in on their specialization in their particular area of law,” Davis said. “We really believe this will be a better service to the public and the City Council, as well as the mayor's office.”

With the move official, Ryan Sudbury will serve as the City Attorney for Civil Services. As such, he'll oversee litigation and ensure the city complies with state, local and federal laws. The duties also advise on proposed ordinance changes and on legal risk and strategies.

The move also places Keithi Worthington as the City Attorney for Prosecution. The position will oversee all prosecution services including DUI and criminal and misdemeanor crimes, while also supporting the city's crime victim services. The job will also advise the city on matters concerning criminal law and serve as a member of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.

“There are very distinct skills and expertise involved in these two areas of law,” Davis said. “It's important to note that our goal is create two offices, not one office with two bosses. This doesn't create any new full-time employees. Any capacity building will be considered through the (upcoming) budgeting process. There is no change to the FY24 budget.”

Davis said a similar approach has been taken with positive outcomes in other city departments. Among them, the city engineers now specialize in their own area of expertise including one for utilities, one for surface transportation and one for development.

Both Sudbury and Worthington on Monday said they worked well together in their specialized areas and will communicate on any issues that may overlap the two offices.

“We've discussed the division of labor and the sort of roles and responsibilities, and I think that's really important for this system to work,” Sudbury said. “There will be a couple of things that overlap. We'll have to work together on those sorts of things.”