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Talks aim to move county attorney

Emmy Acton would still work part time as a lawyer for Hillsborough County, officials say.

Published September 19, 2003

TAMPA - Hillsborough County Attorney Emmy Acton has entered into negotiations with the county administrator over terms for a graceful departure from the job after months of turmoil and absence from her office, top county officials have confirmed.

Both the county tax collector and the supervisor of elections said Thursday they have been asked by County Administrator Dan Kleman to consider hiring Acton part time. The shorter hours would accommodate her illness from diabetes.

Supervisor of Elections Buddy Johnson has turned down the request, saying he is already happy with the representation he is getting from her office. Tax Collector Doug Belden said he has not made a decision.

Both said Kleman has approached them within the past week.

"He discussed the prospect with me, and I made no commitment," Belden said.

Belden and Johnson said that Kleman indicated he is making similar inquiries with other constitutional officers and other agency heads outside County Center.

County commissioners have been briefed on the negotiations in recent days but were generally reluctant to talk, for fear of affecting the outcome. However, Commissioner Pat Frank confirmed she has spoken with Kleman about the talks, and said that they were initiated at Acton's request.

"I think it's fair to say that he is trying to work out something at Mrs. Acton's request that would allow her to continue to work as an attorney," said Frank, an Acton ally. "But not on a full-time basis because of her medical condition."

Under the general framework of the talks, Acton would take on a job working as little as 10 hours a month, though Johnson said he understood the time to be 10 hours a week. The county would continue to pay for Acton's health insurance, and possibly her retirement benefits.

Commissioners are expecting Kleman to have a resolution of the matter by Oct. 15.

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