Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Town Attorney fee increase proposal

This proposal raises the monthly retainer for the TA by about $4,000/mo.I have a few questions, but my main concern... where are we incurring all the fees?

One of my concerns is if the TA is answering questions posed by the TM... or more specifically... answering policy questions that should not be raised by the TM... but should only be addressed if the Council collectively wishes to get an answer to a question.

Tim White

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

"No charges shall be made for routine photocopying..."

Whew!

Anonymous said...

3. States that charges "may" be made for mileage and out of pocket expenses like computer research etc.

The council should clarify the use of "may" - either they are charging or they're not - there should be no "maybes".

Tim, perhaps you could let us know how much the total legal fees have gone up since having Atty Knott who had an office right here in town and served the town well for many years.

When the town attorney can't answer a question, as does happen often, do we get a "discount" on that month's bill? If the council has to delay actions waiting for answers from attorneys, seems something is wrong with that!

tim white said...

f the council has to delay actions waiting for answers from attorneys

I don't recall ever having to wait for answers from attorneys. Seems to me there's usually an abundance of "legal" advice during our meetings.

Oh wait... were you talking about a specific attorney?

Anonymous said...

Not surprisingly the council voted to approve spending nearly 18K per month on the attorney retainer fee. The first thing listed in the agreement is that the attorney is to be at each regular town council meeting. With 12 regular TC meetings per year that's approximately $1500 per meeting. Well, since it was noted that the town attorney wasn't at tonight's meeting because he was on vacation, does that mean we can knock $1500 off his bill? Go figure.

Anonymous said...

"normal day-to-day handling of Town legal matters"

????

It this attorney at the town hall on a daily basis working 8 hours a day? $214,500 per year sounds like an awful lot to just handle normal day-to-day legal matters. How many of these "legal matters" do we have?
Just imagine how many more we will have after the turf goes in...
How does this compare to the TA fees for similar towns? Like Guilford?(Lets not use Madison--they have a few too many issues)
I also agree with 10:32, do we get a break if the attorney doesn't come to a meeting?

tim white said...

I have differences with the TA, but there's only so many things I feel I can tackle. Nonetheless, I think I got the Council Chairman on the record acknowledging that we should be asking accounting, not legal, questions.

All the talk about too many meetings, etc. is IMO offbase. You just need to see where the money is going. And you need to see the complete documentation of billing... not necessarily every six minutes of billing... but at least a matrix showing $5,000 - $10,000 buckets perhaps "by individual by department / commission."

As for why the budget committee hadn't gotten that information... who knows. I would think that with all the lawyers and accountants on this Council (and supposedly on the budget committee), they would have asked the question.

And btw, there was a reason why I asked "to whom does special counsel report?"

Almost no one (including the no-questions-allowed Council majority) will understand the significance of that question... but it was very significant to at least one person tonight.

Anonymous said...

There were many P&Z meetings regarding the North End project with no Town attorneys present. I guess there was a desire to save some money. Where were they when they were needed most? It's a huge dollar amount. They did a great job according to some TC members as compared to what?

Anonymous said...

It's time to get a new town attorney, one that lives in town and has a real interest in Cheshire. For less than $214,000, we could have a lawyer who lives in town, has a office in the town hall and who works fulltime and is totally dedicated to Cheshire.

We just have too many people that live out of town and don't really care about the town other than it is their ATM machine.