Town’s outside attorney fees grow by $50,000 in five years; money well spent, says mayor

Town’s outside attorney fees grow by $50,000 in five years; money well spent, says mayor

NORTH PROVIDENCE – The town spent about $50,000 more last year on services for outside attorneys than it did five years ago.

North Providence taxpayers spent $343,003 on outside attorneys for the 2015-2016 fiscal year and $343,003 the year before that. Those amounts were up from $295,070 in 2014, $259,852 in 2013, and $291,340 in 2012. The town has spent $298,915 so far this year.

According to numbers provided to The North Providence Breeze through a records request, the person with the biggest increase over the past five years was labor attorney Vincent Ragosta, who went from $126,158 in 2012 to $214,508 in 2016, or up about $88,000.

Costs for other attorneys have gone down, resulting in the overall increase of $50,000.

Ragosta has earned $125,349 so far in the fiscal year that ends June 30, according to the documents.

Mayor Charles Lombardi, who’s taken heat from some in the town’s employee ranks for the money he spends on attorneys, said this week that the money spent on Ragosta has more than been made up by how much the attorney has saved the town through winning numerous cases, especially those involving management rights in departments.

“The taxpayers will save tenfold,” he said. “Sometimes, you’ve got to take things on.”

At least some of the increased costs for Ragosta can be found in his defense against dozens of grievances from the town’s police union over the past few years. The town settled most of those grievances last November. Including one on police overtime costs.

Ragosta remains one of the more affordable attorneys in the state, at $185 an hour, said Lombardi, and never advises town officials to pursue a case if he doesn’t believe they’ll succeed. He remains respected in the legal community for his honesty and professionalism.

“He’s been very good to us,” he said.

The numbers provided for outside legal services do not include the $51,018 the town spent on Solicitor Anthony Gallone last year or the $6,000 paid to council attorney Mark Welch.

Other attorneys and firms paid by the town over the past five years are:

• Anthony Traini, who received $10,000 in 2014, $5,000 in 2015, $12,696 in 2016, and has earned $6,729 so far this year. Traini has been called in to work on a continued legal dispute with the town’s senior center, and on the town’s Google spending.

• Prosecutor James Caruolo, who received $75,983 in 2012, $75,706 in 2013, $77,281 in 2014, $66,663 in 2015, and $61,065 in 2016. Caruolo is no longer prosecuting for the town.

• Ratcliffe Harten, on Environmental Protection Agency matters, which earned $4,861 in 2012, $5,557 in 2013, $6,621 in 2014, $5,511 in 2015, $21,567 in 2016, and has received $13,817 so far this year.

• Rodio & Ursillo, working on fringe benefit issues, earned $2,188 in 2012, $60,521 in 2013, $18, 244 in 2014, $46,918 in 2015, $10,150 in 2016, and has received $18,528 so far this year.

• Sullivan & Sullivan, the town’s new prosecution firm, which earned $6,692 for working part of last year and so far has earned $47,142 this year.

• Adler, Pollock & Sheehan, which earned $25,078 in 2012, $13,201 in 2015, $560 in 2016, and so far has secured $8,105 this year.

• Timothy Bliss, who earned $7,763 in 2016 and so far has made $14,533 this year.

• Brennan, Recupero, which earned $2,948 in 2015 and $568 in 2016.

• Peter Desimone, who made $14,119 from the town in 2012, $2,568 in 2013, $13,545 in 2014, $13,878 in 2015, and $1,333 in 2016.

• DeSisto Law, which so far has earned $69,431 this year, much of that for an investigation into actions in the North Providence Police Department.

• Handy Law LLC, which earned $7,495 in 2015 and $236 in 2016.

• Robinson, Clapham, which earned $42,953 in 2012.

• Charles Ruggerio, who earned $2,595 in 2015, $5,865 in 2016, and so far has received $2,010 this year. Ruggerio is working on issues related to the town’s solar farm.

• And Vetter & White, which earned $16,565 in 2014.

Comments

Management issues, that's it plain and straight, we don't have leadership, financial skills or contractual resolution capacity. Taxpayers are paying a big premium for unintended consequences due to poor planning and execution from our Mayor and Town Council.
Solution, replace what has not and does not work with a business manager that is held accountable each and every year. What we have now just doesn't give NP a chance.

Oh, yes, In The Halls of Justice, the only Justice is in the Halls....Lawyers win, those paying the lawyers, not so much...
Unfortunately, in Rhode Island, you got to have a guy...