The City of Nanaimo added four firms to its legal team.
At its meeting Monday at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre, city council approved contract awards to put four law firms on retainer for the next three years.
Harris and Company and Roper Greyell were chosen for labour law services and Stewart McDannold Stuart and Valkyrie Law Group were added for municipal law services.
“We ran the open competition RFP to have a roster of firms available to staff to use for legal advice and to have the range of law firms available,” said Tracy Samra, the city’s chief administrative officer, adding that the city also has other firms including Young Anderson on retainer “because they’ve had files with the city for years.”
Mayor Bill McKay was the only council member to oppose any of the votes, supporting the two labour law contracts but voting against the two municipal law contracts.
He said he wanted the city to set a budget limit for law services in the neighbourhood of $500,000 per year.
“I would feel a lot more comfortable if we had a number attached to this award…” he said. “All I’m asking [is] if we’re approaching the limit of $500,000 that staff comes back and advises us.”
Victor Mema, the city’s director of finance, suggested such a process is already place, as city council receives quarterly financial reports highlighting where budget dollars need to move around.
“We’ll still come back and say, ‘here is where we are; we think we need more and this is why we think we need more,’” Mema said.
The city’s law services budget for 2016 is $450,000. Samra said the figure is set out in the financial plan year to year and can’t be predicted beyond looking historical spending trends.
“Recommendations are made from staff when we need to add additional monies to the legal fund,” she said. “And it’s likely this year we will add to it because we’ve had considerable draw on the legal resources for the city dealing with governance issues.”