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Essex County Manager Clifford Donaldson Jr.

ELIZABETHTOWN -- Essex County lawmakers have decided to drop their appeal of a lawsuit that ordered them to pay legal fees for County Manager Clifford Donaldson Jr.

After Donaldson's victory in State Supreme Court, the county filed a notice with the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court preserving its right to appeal.

But the County Board of Supervisors has now voted to abandon the appeal and instead get a financial report of how much Donaldson is owed.

Donaldson accrued the legal expenses defending himself against a 2005 lawsuit that sought to remove him from office for alleged non-residency in the county. The suit was filed by Supervisor George Canon (R-Newcomb), who was then chairman of the Board of Supervisors.

Acting Supreme Court Justice Peter Feldstein dismissed the suit, ruling that Canon didn't have standing to bring it without the backing of the rest of the Board of Supervisors.

Donaldson subsequently asked the county to pay his attorney fees, then sued when no action was taken.

Earlier this year, Clinton County Acting Justice Patrick R. McGill ordered the county to pay Donaldson's legal fees.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Noel Merrihew III (R-Elizabethtown) said the appeal notice was just to give the county time to discuss how to proceed. The discussion was held Monday afternoon in executive session.

"We decided we are not going to appeal," Supervisor Robert C. Dedrick (R-Ticonderoga) said. "We're going to get an accounting of what his fees were and pay them."

The legal expenses are estimated at more than $15,000. Donaldson said Tuesday he doesn't want to comment on the board's action.

lmckinstry@pressrepublican.com

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