As city’s legal fees rise, confusion persists

first_imgROSEMEAD – The decision to hire two law firms for municipal work is proving costly and confusing, city officials said. The law firm Garcia, Calderon and Ruiz was hired in April to take over as the city’s and redevelopment agency’s attorney. But half of the firm’s work was taken away in September when Burke, Williams and Sorensen was hired to represent the redevelopment agency. City officials said the move would help reduce attorney’s fees. But since then, attorney’s bills are higher than in past years, and officials can’t agree on how to divvy up the responsibilities. “As of today, there still needs to be more clarification,” Mayor John Tran said. “I’ve been disappointed in the billing and the performance,” Clark said referring to Garcia’s firm. In the meantime, the city is also paying its former law firm, Wallin, Cress, Reisman and Kranitz, for several cases it is handling. During six months, the firm has charged nearly $30,000, including $1,862 a month for health insurance. City Manager Oliver Chi said the council has addressed ways to control Garcia’s attorney’s fees, and they are beginning to see the effects now. “We are at a better place today at our legal costs than several months ago,” he said. Garcia’s high bills prompted the city to place a cap on his contract, limiting him to $30,000 a month. “I am satisfied with the type of work and legal advice that his firm has provided,” Tran said. Rosemead has budgeted legal fees at $265,000 for the 2007-08 fiscal year, and Chi expects the fees to exceed the budget. “It falls in line with what we have already set aside for what we’ve budgeted,” Tran said. “We took action to decrease our legal bills, and I think that it is working.” [email protected] (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2477160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREPettersson scores another winner, Canucks beat KingsConfusion remains on whether Garcia’s firm will be representing the Planning Commission or if that duty should be passed on to Burke, Williams and Sorensen. The City Council on Tuesday requested to review both firms’ contracts and to discuss it at a future meeting. The Planning Commission handles issues related to land use, and Burke, Williams and Sorensen was hired to represent the city on those matters. But Garcia’s firm is still representing the commission. Councilwoman Margaret Clark is concerned the city is being overcharged by Garcia’s firm. City Attorney Bonifacio Garcia has charged the city nearly $164,000 for five months of work, including an August bill for $17,622, and a May bill for $56,440. Burke, Williams and Sorensen charged $5,612 for the month of September. last_img read more