April 23, 2014

Legal costs way up in this council term

As published in The Erin Advocate

The costs of dealing with lawsuits and other legal issues has risen 61.4% during this term of council, with much more to come in 2014 according to Finance Director Sharon Marshall.

She was asked by council last year to compare legal costs in the current term, compared to the previous four-year term.

Costs for the last three years, plus three months, total $182,834, including a high of $96,943 for 2013. That compares to $113,252 for the four years ending in November 2010.

“We are currently dealing with several lawsuits that are not being defended by our municipal insurance provider, so I expect the 2014 legal costs will be substantial,” said Marshall.

Steve Garrod is the Town’s primary lawyer. His firm accounted for $130,492 of legal expenses in this term, including $55,921 last year alone. That compares to $59,105 from 2006 to 2010.

The spending this term is spread among eight providers, including $2,104 to meeting investigator Norm Gamble and $16,465 to John Craig, hired to investigate the Code of Conduct complaint against Mayor Lou Maieron.

Other highlights from the current term breakdown include: general legal advice for various departments - $73,347; human resource matters - $20,153; tax arrears - $5,783; freedom of information issues - $2,370; a lawsuit - $7,408; SSMP - $9,439; fill bylaw and enforcement - $11,761; severances and OMB appeals - $18,480; fire hall construction lawsuit - $2,768 and the Station Road project - $12,560.