Facing mounting legal expenses, members of the Wellington Village Council voted unanimously Tuesday to transfer $215,000 from its rate stabilization fund to cover the costs.
In June, Village Manager Paul Schofield asked council members to transfer $250,000 in expectation of “unforeseen” costs, but council members said they wanted to see actual figures before making a transfer. “We are now at that point,” Schofield said.
The actual cost of litigation to bring the village up to date for its 2012 budget year came in at $215,000 — $35,000 less than predicted. That amount is in addition to the $456,728 budgeted last year for the village’s legal counsel.
Because there is about $600,000 of available financing in the rate stabilization fund, council members were able to do a line-item transfer rather than a budget amendment.
“That way we’re not taking it out of reserves,” Schofield said. “There is a fund for that, and we’re not having to take it out of an operating account for this year.”
Councilman Matt Willhite asked whether Schofield expected to need another transfer of funds this year. “This brings us up through October,” he said. “Do you anticipate bringing back another transfer during the remainder of the year?”
Schofield said that although the village will be paid off for 2012, he anticipates going over the 2013 budget for legal costs.
“For fiscal year 2013, the legal budget is about $400,000,” he said. “Based on litigation, we expect to be over that. I do not anticipate having a firm number for you for that until your first or second meeting in January.”
Councilwoman Anne Gerwig said she felt it was necessary to take from the fund, which is typically reserved for storms or other extraordinary events.
“It does seem to be an extraordinary event,” she said. “I think it’s appropriate to take it out of the fund. We don’t have anywhere else to take it from at this point without cutting into some capital improvements.”
She said she would support the measure, but unwillingly. “I just don’t believe that these costs were unforeseen,” Gerwig said.
Willhite made a motion to approve the measure, which passed unanimously.
$456,000 last year, $215,000 so far this year and the Council majority would rather let the Equestrian Village issue go through court, of which they are named in Jacob’s lawsuit, as opposed to actually facing the issue themselves and work out an agreement? This is a leadership failure. This is money right out of the pockets of the senior center, or parks and rec, or operating money. Legal fees vanish into thin air.
When the Council says “thier hands are tied”, remember, the rules that tie their hands are their own. They can be changed at any time with a vote. There’s a rule that says Council meeting must end by 11 pm. That’s the rule. Every, every, every Council meeting that I have attended that goes to 11 pm,, they simply vote to change the rule.
Legislative bodies, the Village Council, make the rules, They are the only ones with the power to make and to change the rules. They can settle the existining litigation if they really wanted to. However the three memeber majority would rather cowtow than fight. The main litigator is Jacobs. Jacobs put over $500,000 into getting those three elected. While they say they aren’t his, they only vote his way.
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