Town Counsel to be chosen next week

Written by Administrator
 | Wednesday, 12 December 2012 15:22

A new town counsel will be chosen next week, Duxbury’s selectmen decided Monday. After interviewing three finalists for the position last week and discussing their thoughts at this Monday’s weekly meeting, selectmen agreed they needed more time and information before making a final decision. Their discussion focused on the three finalists’ proposals to offer legal services for a flat fee instead of an hourly rate, and pinpointing exactly which services would be included in such an arrangement.

The three finalists were selected by a town counsel search committee and interviewed by selectmen. Finalists include interim town counsel Arthur Kreiger of Anderson and Kreiger LLP of Cambridge; Barbara Saint Andre of Petrini & Associates PC of Framingham and Lisa Mead of Blatman, Bobrowski & Mead, LLC of Concord, Millis and Newburyport.

Kreiger was appointed as interim town counsel in May after the town fired 26-year veteran town counsel Robert Troy.

Selectmen liked the flat fee arrangement for standard town counsel services, which would allow them to control costs. The flat fee proposals do not include the costs of litigation.

According to selectmen, the flat rate offered by Blatman, Bobrowski & Mead was $72,000 per year.  Petrini & Associates offered services for $50,000 and Anderson and Kreiger’s price was $96,000.

Selectman David Madigan said he was concerned about the proposal offered by Petrini & Associates, which was much lower than the other firms. Madigan said he felt that law firm is the smallest and had the least experience of the three.

Madigan noted that Blatman, Bobrowski & Mead have extensive experience in zoning law and writing zoning bylaws and have experience as town counsel for many towns.

Madigan said while Anderson and Kreiger have done a good job as interim town counsel, they had indicated they wanted to drive to Duxbury as little as possible.

Selectmen praised Kreiger for the work he’s done for the town in the past seven months, which includes settling multiple legal cases, some of which have been dragging on for years.

However, Selectman Shawn Dahlen said that Kreiger’s hourly rate is “significantly higher,” especially on litigation.

Dahlen said Kreiger’s proposal mentioned the schools, but the school committee has its own legal counsel, so he said he’d like to see that eliminated from the attorney’s proposal.

Dahlen said it was hard to compare the three flat fee proposals and he needed more information before making a decision.

“I’m looking for complete clarification,” he said.

Selectmen Chairman Ted Flynn said selectmen must not put too much weight on the costs of legal services.

“There’s something you can’t put into dollars and cents and that’s quality of service,” said Flynn. “I would not want to hire a town counsel based on price. To me that’s not the determinant.”

Town Manager Richard MacDonald said he will get the selectmen the information they needed, and the board said they will choose a town counsel at their next meeting.