By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
TAYLOR — City council approval of Mayor Jeffrey Lamarand’s attorney fees — expenses incurred when elected officials took the mayor to court over acceptance of a federal grant for fire staffing — was granted Tuesday.
Council Chairwoman Cheryl Burke said the question was easily answered yet stalled.
“They knew they were going to pass it,” Burke said of the council’s decision. “They just dragged it out.”
Lamarand retained the law firm of Fausone and Bohn for representation in Wayne County Circuit Court last year after council members sought a court order forcing the mayor to accept a federal grant. Lamarand vetoed the approved grant, citing hidden costs that the city could not afford.
Negotiations with Taylor Fire Fighters Union Local 1252 reached a compromise with the city that allowed acceptance of the grant.
The matter still had its day in court, with more to follow. Lamarand submitted legal bills for council approval that, after being tabled earlier this month, were unanimously approved.
Burke said that attorney fees incurred during elected service are to be expected, and approval should not have become an issue.
“There wouldn’t have been any legal bills if the council wasn’t trying to run the city from the back end,” Burke said.
Lamarand said the attorney fees were addressed but that the legal challenges between city council and the mayor will continue in court.
“Any questions on the billing are over,” Lamarand said. “But we’re far from over at this point. We’re still waiting for the appeals court to review the case.”
Lamarand’s legal bills as of last week were an estimated $50,000 — at $225 an hour— and the city spent more than $10,000 in taking the mayor to court. Burke said the situation was unique in her experience.
“This was a first,” Burke said. “A lot of firsts happened in this administration.”
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected].)