The city council approved $820,000 in legal contracts to 10 law firms to handle various legal cases involving the municipality on Thursday afternoon.
Council members raised questions about two of the contracts. Ruby Cotton, 4th Ward councilwoman, raised doubts about the value of awarding a contract connected to the city’s abandoned properties program.
“In reality, the city has not taken over one property yet. Not one,” said Cotton expressing frustration.
Law director Dominick Stampone told council members the city is not looking to become a landlord, but to force neglectful property owners into doing a better job in maintaining their buildings.
Citing the recent abandoned properties special lien auction, Stampone said the program is working. He acknowledged the city has yet to take over the Berkshire Avenue property that was described as the “test case.” The city launched actions in court against the property in October 2014.
The city awarded a $50,000 contract to Paterson-based Law Offices of Alfred V. Acquaviva. Last year, the same contract went to Rochelle Park-based Florio Perrucci Steinhardt & Fader. Stampone said the Rochelle Park law firm was uninterested in the contract this year.
Council members also raised questions about the $120,000 flat contract with Newark-based attorney Steven Glickman who handles labor counsel work for the city. He recently negotiated the contracts with the city’s police and fire unions.
Stampone told council members this year Glickman will receive a flat amount rather than hourly billing the city to make invoicing easier for the attorney. He said the Newark attorney billed $165,000 last year fiscal year.
“It will work to our benefit,” said Stampone. He said he looked at the past three years. One year, Glickman billed $142,000, another $117,000.
“This year there was contract negotiations so the bill was excess,” said Michael Jackson, 1st Ward councilman.
Jackson requested Stampone provide 10 years of billing data for Glickman’s firm. Council members approved the 10 law contracts at their close out meeting on Thursday.
Other firms to receive contracts were:
- Fairfield-based Dwyer, Connell and Lisbona was awarded a $100,000 contract for litigation counsel.
- Toms River-based Gilmore and Monahan received a $100,000 contract for litigation counsel.
- Newark-based Adams, Gutierrez & Lattiboudere, $75,000, to serve as labor counsel.
- Lyndhurst-based Scarinci Hollenbeck, $75,000, to handle workers compensation cases.
- Wayne-based Buglione, Hutton & DeYoe, $75,000, to handle workers compensation cases.
- Newark-based Lite, DePalma, Greenberg, $75,000, to serve as conflict counsel.
- Paterson-based Sciro & Marotta, $75,000, to serve as conflict counsel.
- Parsippany-based Inglesino, Webster, Wyciskala & Taylor, $75,000, to serve as conflict counsel.