WENDELL — When town leaders draft ordinances and contracts, face a lawsuit or encounter a question about complying with state regulations, they turn to the town attorney to make sure they stay within the law and get the details right.
This year, Wendell’s leaders also are turning to the town attorney to save money.
The Board of Commissioners on June 10 voted to extend the town’s relationship with James P. Cauley III and Cauley Pridgen Attorneys, P.A., renewing a four-year contract that will run from July 1 through June 2017. The contract, approved as part of the meeting’s consent agenda, also does not increase fees, Town Manager Teresa Piner said.
“We have gone to bid in the past. However, the fees that we have were the same ones for at least the last three years,” Piner said after the meeting. “At that time it went out to bid, other people came in a little bit higher. His qualifications were reviewed. The board feels comfortable. It’s just a matter of how we can reduce some of those costs.”
The maximum hourly rate will remain $205, unchanged from the previous contract, Cauley, the firm’s president, said.
The town also will save money by no longer having an attorney present for both Board of Commissioners meetings each month, Piner said. An attorney will attend meetings on second Mondays and not on fourth Mondays, a plan that Piner said will be reassessed each year.
With the renewed contract, Wendell will maintain at least an 11-year continuity of representation, though not firm name. The relationship began when Rose Rand Attorneys, P.A., won the contract in 2006. A merger resulted in a renamed firm, Rose Rand Wallace Attorneys, P.A., which renewed the contract with Wendell starting in July 2009. From that firm, Cauley and Brian Pridgen formed a practice in 2012, renewing this year through June 2017.
Cauley said the relationship isn’t just one lawyer serving the town. His firm, which represents municipal clients statewide, has lawyers with varied expertise.
“We have some other lawyers that tend to focus on particular areas of the law,” Cauley said. “Different lawyers in the firm get involved in different issues.”
Even though an attorney’s presence will be less visible, Cauley and his firm still will draft and review contracts, handle negotiations and defend the town in litigation.
“At lot like the town elected officials,” Cauley said, “there tends to be a lot of work that goes on that’s not seen.”