Atkinson Town Hall

Atkinson Town Hall
The Norman Rockwellian picture of Atkinson

There is a NEW POLL at Right--------------------->

Don't forget to VOTE!
Make your voice heard!

Welcome Message and Mission Statement

Welcome to the NEW Atkinson Reporter! Under new management, with new resolve.

The purpose of this Blog is to pick up where the Atkinson Reporter has left off. "The King is dead, Long live the King!" This Blog is a forum for the discussion of predominantly Atkinson; Officials, People, Ideas, and Events. You may give opinion, fact, or evaluation, but ad hominem personal attacks will not be tolerated, or published. The conversation begun on the Atkinson Reporter MUST be continued!

This Blog will not fall to outside hacks from anyone, especially insecure public officials afraid of their constituents criticism.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Town legal fees can add up quickly Derry spent $270,000 last year

From the Eagle Tribune;

Town legal fees can add up quickly Derry spent $270,000 last year
By Jarret Bencks

Atkinson recently sued a town resident who refused to take down an addition to his home built without proper permits. The town has twice been taken to court by a company seeking to add antennas to a phone tower in town.

Town counsel Sumner Kalman said Atkinson can be a litigious town. That comes with a cost, although Atkinson appears to have a good deal with Kalman.

Unlike most towns that pay their lawyers an hourly rate, Atkinson pays Kalman an annual retainer to handle all of the town's legal matters. Last year, it paid him $30,000.

"The retainer gives them a number they can count on," Kalman said.

He has worked with the town since the 1970s, even though it has a propensity for controversy.

"They're a nice town — nice people," he said. "It's a pleasure."SClBSome Southern New Hampshire towns spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney's fees last year.

Towns seek legal counsel for various reasons — an opinion on codes and ordinances, and sometimes to file or answer lawsuits. How much municipal attorneys are paid and the way they are paid varies, depending on the town.

Derry spent about $270,000 on lawyers last year, and has $250,000 budgeted for 2010. Town Administrator Gary Stenhouse said it costs the town about $120 to $170 an hour when it is paying the firm that is its town counsel, but spend up to $300 an hour when it has to hire special counsel.

Stenhouse said towns have good reputations as clients — they typically pay their bills on time and can help give a firm a good name.

"Having a town listed as a client reflects well on them," Stenhouse said.

But Kalman, who also represents Newton, Kingston and Danville, said he wasn't sure that was the case. Lawsuits involving towns are very public, and can sometimes be bitter.

"We (Atkinson) sue a lot of people," Kalman said. "We get involved in a lot of controversial confrontations."

The $30,000 Atkinson paid last year compares closely with Kingston, which spent about $32,000 on legal fees in 2009. Plaistow spent approximately $36,000. Londonderry spent about $130,000 on lawyers last year.

In Salem, about $110,000 has been spent on legal fees for 2009, and the town expects to receive another bill later this month, according to Finance Director Jane Savastano.

Among town boards, Salem selectmen spent the most money on lawyers last year, about $44,000, she said.


MAcciard said...

This story only tells a fraction of the story. In Atkinson Sumner gets a $28,500 retainer from the town, another, I think it is $14,000 from the PD, plus there is a legal defense line for court proceedings, of $5,000. And the Town's insurer has spent over $150,000 in the last 3 years on legal fees. We see that in the always increasing insurance premiums.

Anonymous said...

""We (Atkinson) sue a lot of people," Kalman said."

Uhhh...he forgot to mention the town is getting its behind sued off. Judgments in court against town officials will be huge sums this year.

The town legal fees will rise quickly and the $270,000 Derry spent will not compare to Atkinson's total legal tab.

Time for the officials who generate these lawsuits to think about the costs.

Just my humble opinion.

Anonymous said...

They generate lawsuits based on bad legal advise from WHO?

Can you guess?

Kalman must go.

Anonymous said...

ALL opinions from legal counsel to selectmen should be public knowledge. They should be in writeing and published for all taxpayers to decide on. Not all opinion is legal. Taxpayers have a right to know, and not buried by town officials as fact.