Exit sooner rather than later for Dechant

Retirement is coming earlier than expected for Mesa County Attorney Lyle Dechant. But he says he’s OK with leaving.

Dechant, who began work as the county attorney in May 1983, submitted a letter last week announcing his plans to retire Feb. 14. Mesa County commissioners John Justman and Rose Pugliese approved the letter and conditions requested by Dechant, including three months of salary and benefits worth nearly $32,000 and pay for accrued time off. Those terms are mentioned in Dechant’s employment contract as provisions he can receive if his services are terminated before the end of his contract. Dechant said his contract has no specific end date, to his knowledge.

Commissioner Steve Acquafresca voted against accepting the resignation letter.

Dechant, 67, said Wednesday he tentatively planned to retire at age 70 but decided to retire now because Pugliese and Justman “wanted a new direction.” He said Feb. 14 may sound like a quick exit but he believes the timing is right given the circumstances.

“It was kind of a mutual agreement. When you’re in what I would call a lame duck status, you’re not sure what to do, others are not sure what to do, so it’s probably better to make it a shorter time,” Dechant said.

Pugliese said earlier this week she would like the county attorney’s office to see whether using more or less outsourcing for legal activity in the county would save money. The county spent $264,285.59 on outside legal services last year.

Dechant said he was aware Pugliese had concerns about outside legal services. Outsourcing “goes back to the ‘80s” in the county attorney’s office because, he said, outside attorneys are sometimes needed for certain expertise, like employment issues, but not often enough for the office to hire a specialized attorney.

Dechant said his last few days as county attorney will be spent taking his name off of certain cases that are ongoing and sending pertinent information to David Frankel, who will be the interim county attorney. Although his departure is sooner than he may have planned, Dechant said he was “moving that direction” and looks forward to raising cattle.

“We’ve gone through a number of years of difficulties in terms of budget and cranking down and down and you kind of get to a point where you’re just tired,” he said.


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