John Settle.jpg

John came to Shreveport in January of 1977 when he was transferred to Barksdale AFB.

He’s been active in Shreveport politics since deciding to make Shreveport his home.

John practiced law for 40 years and he now monitors local politics. He regularly attends Shreveport City Council and Caddo Parish Commission meetings.

John is published weekly in The Inquisitor, bi-monthly in The Forum News, and frequently in the Shreveport Times.

He enjoys addressing civic groups on local government issues and elections.

 

IN 2018 SHREVEPORT SPENDS OVER $1 MILLION IN ATTORNEY FEES

The Shreveport City Council has become acutely aware of the city’s strained financial status and there has been much discussion about the need to cut budget costs.

One place to start is to look at fees paid by the city to private attorneys for legal services. In 2018, this amount was exceeded $1.1 million.

Like all government entities, the city needs substantial legal services to conduct business operations. This includes drafting of ordinances and contracts, assisting the various city boards, commissions and authorities, seeking recovery for city claims, and defending litigation filed against the city/city departments. And many other needed legal tasks and services.

The city attorney office is staffed by 5 full-time attorneys, which includes the city attorney. This office also has several part-time attorneys. This staffing is woefully inadequate to handle all the city’s legal work. Thus the need for outside private council to provide legal services on a contract basis.

Here are the payments to “outside’ counsel last year:
ABRAMS & LAFARGUE                $368,397.10
EDWIN BYRD                                $281,802.50
THEORDORE CASTEN                $  25,592.00
JOEY GREENWALD                     $  62,204.27
MARCUS EDWARDS                    $  46,400.55
RON C. STAMPS                           $  20,853.55
JENNIFER MCKAY                        $111,689.00
NICOLE BUCKLE                          $161,699.30
ALEX WASHINGTON                    $  29,474.75
JOHN NICKELSON                       $  13,800.00
WINCHELL & JOSEPH                  $  44,763.91
TOTAL                                          $1,166,676.93

And this does not include fees paid to bond attorneys.

Fees in prior years were $797,591 in 2017, $964,610 in 2016 and $1,162,006 in 2015.


The city could probably save substantial dollars by hiring more in-house counsel. If the salary was market price, these slots could be very attractive.

Outside council bill the city on an hourly basis. This means no fees earned while on vacation, taking care of personal medical needs or those of family members, as well as various profession matters including attending required continuing legal education. Outside council must pay for health insurance and fund retirement plans.

The city’s benefits—paid vacation, paid holidays, sick days, health insurance and retirement plan contributions— certainly add to a guaranteed salary.

A full time city attorney means just that—that all the labors of the attorney are for the benefit of the city. Plus the city attorney can prioritize the labors of in-house counsel.

This is not ‘lets kill all the lawyers” suggestion. It is however a way to evaluate government efficiency in operations and expenses.

Just an idea. Let’s not shoot the messenger. 

CUTTING THE “FAT’ IN THE SHREVEPORT CITY BUDGET

PERKINS RELEASES 100 DAY REPORT