The City of White Rock will not hire in-house legal counsel, despite projections it will exceed its budget in that department for the fourth year in a row.
The issue was raised at Monday’s meeting of the finance and audit committee by Coun. Helen Fathers, during discussion of the city’s quarterly financial report.
In the report, director of financial services Sandra Kurylo notes the city’s legal expenses are expected to be $40,000 over budget by the end of this year.
“I know in the past we have talked about having a legal person on staff.
“Have we given any more thought to that?” Fathers said.
In 2010, the city went over budget on legal fees by $104,300. That number climbed to $123,650 in 2011 and, in 2012, came in at $149,800.
However, Mayor Wayne Baldwin said past experience with in-house counsel had resulted in an increase in costs.
Baldwin added that the city currently receives legal advice from a number of sources, and the city would be restricted to one person if they took on a legal staffer.
Dan Bottrill, the city’s chief administrative officer, noted the legal increases were a result of unexpected issues, including the planned purchase of the city’s waterworks from Epcor.
“This year was a little unusual because of some of the things we were dealing with, including the purchase of the water utility – these are things you won’t see normally,” Bottrill said.
The mayor did, however, ask staff to provide a detailed breakdown of legal expenses in order to pinpoint where the money was being spent.
“Legal costs are a bit of a black hole, and sometimes it might be useful for council’s information to have a bit of a breakdown to see what issues have been causing the increase in cost,” he said.