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Pulling back on attorney expenses

September 22, 2011

This past year, municipalities and public bodies to reduce costs have renegotiated fees or changed attorneys because of the sluggish economy.

The Town of Mamakating has eliminated the grant-writer position, inquired about a new/cheaper telephone system and discussed employees’ contributions toward insurance premium payments.

Compensation for town attorney Richard Stoloff has been questioned. Classified as part time for state pension benefits (5.6 hours/week), he receives $52,000 plus for undocumented services to the town. Extras are billed at $250 per hour totaling over $35,000 last year. Full insurance premiums totaling over $20,000/year are paid for insurance coverage.

I surveyed 14 townships in Sullivan, Orange and Ulster in April, and not one pays an attorney $250/hour. The average is $175-190/hour. Only one pays insurance benefits for a listed full-time attorney, 30 hours/week. In May, this survey was presented to supervisor Baird at a town board meeting. For the past year, employee contributions for insurance premiums have been discussed but, to my knowledge, Richard Stoloff’s insurance premiums/benefits have not been brought up. Our employee handbook states benefits for “full-time” employees.

Richard W. Morris
Wurtsboro, NY