Letter to the editor

Why increase in Belfast legal budget line?

Fri, 01/20/2023 - 12:30pm

In the two years from fiscal year 2014-2015 through fiscal year 2015-2016 the City of Belfast spent an average of $52,000 a year in legal fees. No data for 2016-2017 is available online, but in the five years since then the city has averaged $112,000 a year in legal fees. In other words, the city's legal bills have more than doubled. Why is that? Is it related to Nordic Aquafarms?

In a November 22, 2022 email to me the city manager's office said it doesn't "maintain a tally" of those expenditures. So the city says it doesn't know why its legal tab has more than doubled, even in the face of a 2020 budget crisis City Manager Erin Herbig described in a May 7, 2020 memo as "near apocalypse."

But the city will nonetheless, somehow give me some sort of tally, through a Freedom of Access Act request. For a mere $250. To do work the city should do anyway — and should make public, free of charge. Wow. What a deal.

Lawrence Reichard lives in Belfast