Village Attorney Laurie Cohen will remain the Village of Wellington’s in-house legal counsel through April 20, 2022, agreeing Tuesday to a new contract for three years with the Wellington Village Council.
The only request Cohen had asked was a contribution to her retirement plan. She was awarded a 3 percent contribution per year, along with an annual salary of $196,601.60.
Vice Mayor Michael Napoleone negotiated the contract with Cohen.
“I met with Ms. Cohen a few times to talk about her contract,” he explained. “She originally wanted a five-year contract, but we agreed on a three-year term that was both fair to the village and Ms. Cohen. She wants the village to make a contribution to her retirement plan. I asked staff to pull for me what other municipal attorneys make in the South Florida area. It is common for most cities to contribute to the attorney’s retirement plan. Based upon the information, we came up with a 3 percent contribution, which is about a $6,000 per year contribution.”
Once a member of the council herself, Cohen has been Wellington’s chief legal advisor since 2013.
Councilman Michael Drahos praised Cohen’s work as the village attorney.
“I think representing Wellington in general is a challenging job,” he said. “There are many unique aspects of the legal issues in this town that most other municipality lawyers don’t have to face. For the three years that I have been working with you, I have come to trust and respect your opinion on things, and your legal advice is valid.”
The council is reluctant to increase the attorney’s salary automatically each year based on merit. Drahos explained that he wants the council to have an option. The council agreed that by replacing the word shall with may, the council will have the option of increasing the Cohen’s salary annually or not. Cohen agreed to the change.
For the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, 2019, Cohen may or may not receive an increase to her base salary if other Wellington employees are awarded the same increase. The agreement between Wellington and Cohen passed unanimously with this stipulation.
In other business:
• A presentation of an award from the American Public Works Association took place at Tuesday’s meeting. The Wellington Public Works Department completed a two-year process for agency accreditation by the American Public Works Association and was awarded a plaque for compliance with the recommended practices, including an on-site evaluation. The American Public Works Association conducted a site visit in January, and the recommended reaccreditation for the department was granted. Members of Wellington’s Public Works Department were on hand to receive the award.
• The month of May was designated as Mental Health Awareness and Trauma Informed Care Month in the Village of Wellington. The proclamation stated that, “The Village of Wellington recognizes the impact of awareness and education, access to services and acceptance of the importance of mental health and well-being to a person’s overall success and supports the implementation of trauma-informed approaches throughout the systems of care.”
• Also recognized and congratulated were Wellington students who participated in the recent “Drop Savers” water conservation poster contest. The room was filled with posters depicting a water conservation theme. Parents and teachers accompanied the students, and awards were given out by Utilities Director Shannon LaRocque.
• A presentation of scholarships and contributions was made by Waste Management Government & Community Affairs Manager Ellen Smith. The $2,500 scholarships will be awarded to students at Wellington High School and Palm Beach Central High School based on an essay competition concerning sustainability issues. The members of Wellington’s Education Committee and Waste Management will be in charge of choosing and selecting the winners. A total of $9,500 was donated. The other funds will provide contributions for the purchase of books at Binks Forest and New Horizons elementary schools, and Polo Park Middle School.