Town Attorney seeks cap on hours

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Longboat Key Town Attorney Maggie Mooney-Portale wants to cap the number of billable hours included for legal work performed on procurement and contractual matters that are included in her monthly retainer fee.

Currently, the town and the attorney are parties to a contract that says the town attorney shall provide certain enumerated services at a monthly retainer fee of $20,312.50. Included in such services is the review and approval of town contracts, but according to Mooney-Portale that aspect of her job has intensified and she seeks to be renumerated if more than 18 hours a month of her time is spent on “procurement matters.”

In such instances wherein the town attorney expends more than 18 billable hours in any given month, the town will be billed at a rate of $195 per hour.

“When you start you base it on projections. If the work level changes, you true it up. That goes for both sides, Mooney-Portale told Longboat Key News.

Mooney says she has been averaging 40 hours per month on Procurement and Contract matters. If that pace continues, the Town will pay for 22 hours at $195 per hour in additional fees, or about $4,290 more per month.

Mooney-Portale explained, “There has been a lot more contract work volume than ever has been in the past. Our firm made our initial bid on threshold as hours and there has been a huge uptick in procurement outsourcing.”

She went on to explain the role dictated by Town law.

“Under the Charter the Town Attorney has to review every single contract the town enters into. All of the competitively bid project whether it be the Rec center, subaqueous line, or any outside vender. All of the contracts are required by the charter to sign be signed off on by the Town Attorney. I have to make sure the contract is enforceable.”

If the Town Commission agrees upon the contract change, the new agreement will take effect on May 1, 2015.

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Longboat Key News

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