Costa Mesa Legal Expenses Climbing(Amended)**
Late this afternoon the City of Costa Mesa posted a link, HERE, on the home page that takes you to a spreadsheet displaying the City's legal expenses for this fiscal year, through December, 2011. Before you click on that link be sure you're sitting down and have a seat belt fastened.
BLOWING THROUGH THE BUCKS
According to this bit of information, the City has paid a total of $1,169,339 in legal expenses for the first half of the fiscal year. The total for expenses coming out of the General Fund is $428,259. You will recall that the General Fund budget for legal fees beginning July 1, 2011 was $803,000, so we're well on our way to blowing through that amount.
LITIGATION METER SPINNING
Of greater interest, perhaps, is the amount of money being rung up for litigation. That accounts for $730,360, or over 60% of the City dollars spent on legal expenses! Of that amount, the high-priced firm of Jones Day - the $495 per hour firm being used for the CMCEA litigation - accounts for more than half, $390,701, and that ball's just beginning to roll now. My understanding is that they've begun depositions, which will get that old meter spinning.
GENERAL FUND VS. SELF INSURANCE FUND
I've written to contract City Attorney, Tom Duarte, today for an explanation of how they determine specifically which expenses are charged against the General Fund and which are charged to our Self Insurance Fund. I expect I'll hear from him sometime Wednesday on this subject. The Self Insurance Fund was budgeted for just over $3 million for this fiscal year.
**NOTE: I heard from Bill Lobdell, Director of Communications for Costa Mesa, this morning. He confirmed that those numbers shown under "litigation" are just that. Jones Day numbers will ALWAYS appear in that category.
PENDING WARRANTS MAY STUN US
At the City Council meeting on Tuesday, February 21, 2012 the Consent Calendar will very likely contain Warrants that will include legal expenses paid in January. I fully expect the bills for Jones Day to be HUGE this time around. We'll see...