Langley council OKs lawyer’s contract

The Langley City Council unanimously approved a one-year extension to its contract with City Attorney Grant Weed at its last meeting.

Council members, however, expressed concerns over the legal help they had gotten from Weed’s law firm this year, including the work done on the controversial Langley Passage housing development.

Councilwoman Rene Neff said she supported the contract extension, but wanted the city to look at other options in 2011.

“During this year I would like us to look at other alternatives,” Neff said.

Councilwoman Fran Abel, and others on the council, said she had spoken to the city attorney about his contract.

“I talked to Grant Weed as well and expressed some dissatisfaction with how the quasi-judicial matter was handled in terms of briefings and training and other things that happened in the hearings. And I think that will be an ongoing discussion,” Abel said.

Abel said the contract should be revisited in the next quarter.

Weed did not attend the council meeting on Dec. 20 when his new contract was approved. But Councilman Bob Waterman said Weed had offered to visit the city “on his own dime” to build a better rapport with the council.

Councilman Robert Gilman also said the city should look at other options for legal services next year.

“There are a number of things out of especially this year’s service that we’ve gotten from them that still does not leave me comfortable,” Gilman said.

“My interaction with other lawyers in the municipal field gives me the sense that we may very well be able to get better representation than what we have gotten from Grant’s firm.”

The contract extension only covers the year 2011. It will pay lawyers at Weed’s Snohomish-based law firm an hourly rate of $160 for work on basic city attorney services. The city attorney will be paid $170 an hour, and paralegal costs will run $130 an hour.

The four-page contract also states work on litigation will be billed at $180 an hour. The proposed agreement also includes reimbursement for travel, long distance phone calls and other expenses.

Langley has been hammered by rocketing legal fees this year, mostly due to the ongoing personnel issues at city hall. The city had expected to spend $12,108 this year on legal advice from Weed’s firm, but has already spent triple that amount through November. The city’s legal costs through the first week of December totaled $57,645.

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