Atherton's legal costs have greatly decreased since the April hiring of Bill Conners as city attorney, and if the trend continues, the town should still come out ahead if the City Council approves a proposal to pay him an additional $36,000 annually.
Mr. Conners stated his own case for a raise -- from $9,800 to $12,800 per month -- in a staff report. The council will vote on the proposed increase and an extension of his contract when it meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15.
In his report, Mr. Conners said that, based on budgets of the four years before his appointment, legal costs averaged about $440,000 per year. "The projected annual cost for (legal) services this year will result in a saving of over $300,000 over the average and almost $200,000 over the best year during that span," he said.
Mr. Conners' original contract called for a six-month review. The new proposed contract calls for expanded office hours in Town Hall -- from four hours per week to 14 hours -- and "reflects more correctly the nature and extent of the services provided" as determined by the first six months on the job, according to the report.
Also on the agenda is a recommendation by Interim Police Chief Ed Flint to reorganize the police department's dispatch center, which would lead to a small cost savings to the town.
The move would mean the demotion of communications supervisor John Mattes, whose annual compensation with benefits is now $144,406. With council approval, Mr. Mattes' position would be scaled back to that of dispatcher, with an annual compensation package of $114,673.
In a staff report, Chief Flint said his recommendation is based on a recently completed job classification study by consultants and a staff review of the communication center's organizational structure.
The reviews found that not only was a communications supervisor not needed for dispatching services, but that having one created functional difficulties. Among them: "It is a source of unintended employee conflicts, frustration, and mixed messages from supervisors," the report said.
The chief is recommending that the on-duty patrol supervisor provide supervision of dispatch services once the position now held by Mr. Mattes is eliminated.
In addition to the savings of close to $30,000 in compensation, there would be a potential savings from eliminating the communication supervisor's overtime and the expense of "dispatcher backfill" resulting from the supervisor completing routine tasks, the report said.
The council meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers, 94 Ashfield Road, in the Town Center.