Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward saw his legal costs increase by $318,622 this past fiscal year, according to documents released Tuesday night. Total outside legal fees paid topped $1.4 million.
The trend had been going in the opposite direction. In Fiscal Year 2015, Mayor Hayward reduced the number of law firms he used from 33 to 27 and cut the outside legal costs by $173,021.
However, the unaudited financial reports in the City Council’s agenda packet reveal that while the number law firms used only increased by one, the legal fees jumped from $1,110,192 to $1,428,814. About 20 percent of the increase was for the three-month investigation of Fire Chief Matt Schmitt and Deputy Fire Chief Joe Glover.
The increase occurred even though Mayor Hayward has added, since FY 2014, three full-time attorneys to his staff: Lysia Bowling as City Attorney, whose annual salary is $154,980.80; Rusty Wells as special assistant to the city administrator with an annual salary of $99,486; and Maxwell Branham for the Sunshine Center and who was paid $56,992. (Note: This past summer, Branham resigned and was replaced by Matt Shaud at the same pay.)
Hayward has another attorney on his staff, Stephanie Tillery. She worked in the Legal Department, but has since transferred to the Finance Department. Her pay is $94,993.
Who saw their legal fees increase the most over the past three years? Beggs & Lane, who has seen its billings double; Steinmeyer Fiveash LLP, a Tallahassee firm that deals with environmental and property matters; and Gray Robinson PA, a Florida firm with offices around the state that handles pension plan compliance.
|Beggs & Lane|
|Steinmeyer Fiveash LLP|
|Gray Robinson PA|
The firms that have lost the most business with the City Pensacola since FY 2014 are Plauche Maselli Parkerson LLP, a New Orleans firm that handled utility litigation; Allen Norton & Blue, a Tallahassee firm that handles collective bargaining and employee matters; and Lewis Longman & Walker PA, a Tallahassee firm that handled environmental matters.
|Plauche Maselli Parkerson LLP|
|Allen Norton & Blue PA|
|Lewis Longman & Walker PA|
Here are the numbers by year and by firm:
|Allen Norton & Blue PA||187,351.31||73,202.65||101,757.72|
|Beggs & Lane||267,837.31||220,107.68||540,613.00|
|Boundrant Mixon & Elmore LLP||32,837.31||62,367.36||1,657.50|
|Bryant Miller Olive PA||7,950.91||54,279.04||83,284.64|
|Clark Partington Hart Larry||8,360.07||0.00||0.00|
|Coastal Association Law Group||3,917.36||0.00||0.00|
|Colleen Cleary Ortiz PA||1,942.50||0.00||4,331.00|
|Davidson & Hiers PA||625.00||0.00||0.00|
|Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP||11,291.42||0.00||0.00|
|Galloway Johnson Tompkins Burr and Smith||0.00||0.00||5,080.00|
|Gray Robinson PA||30,070.74||55,437.23||123,140.43|
|Gunster Yoakley & Stewart PA||23,996.41||30,972.47||3,402.00|
|Hammons Longoria Whittaker PA||7,671.69||408.90||0.00|
|Harrison Sale McLoy & Jackson||287.50||0.00||0.00|
|J Nevin Shaffer JR Pa||0.00||0.00||450.00|
|Jolly & Peterson PA||45,790.23||15,655.55||17,382.11|
|Law Offices of William I Gault||2,812.50||62.50||0.00|
|Lewis Longman & Walker PA||135,479.82||91,452.71||18,202.10|
|Locke Lord LLP||0.00||6,397.61||3,587.50|
|Locklin & Saba PA||3,000.00||0.00||0.00|
|McCarter & English LLP||51,676.03||144,979.46||144,947.09|
|McDonald Fleming Moorhead||10,445.25||120.00||0.00|
|McGuire Woods LLP||9,501.00||0.00||0.00|
|Messer Caparello PA||15,126.03||2,065.00||0.00|
|Messer Law Firm PA||168,175.30||75,000.00||0.00|
|Miller Balis & O’Neil PC||12,630.43||0.00||0.00|
|Nabors Giblin & Nickerson PA||1,541.78||548.21||617.12|
|Philip A Bates PA||2,596.50||445.20||482.70|
|Plauche Maselli Parkerson LLP||147,947.77||52,052.23||16,877.21|
|Quintairos Prieto Wood & Boyer PA||30,156.77||36,332.05||34,046.70|
|Ray, Jr Louis F||18,009.00||23,801.75||24,969.00|
|Roderic G Magie PA||50,482.65||51,347.05||51,853.00|
|Rumberger Kirk & Caldwell PA||34,294.81||0.00||0.00|
|Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP||3,240.58||21,313.12||4,228.17|
|Shell Fleming Davis Menge||0.00||0.00||400.00|
|Sergent, Stanley H||0.00||800.00||0.00|
|Smith & Associates of Tallahassee PA||0.00||0.00||6,954.42|
|Smith & Sauer PA||0.00||0.00||330.00|
|Spero, Donald J||0.00||0.00||1,573.44|
|Steinmeyer Fiveash LLP||0.00||0.00||157,551.02|
|The Hammons Law Firm PA||0.00||12,580.55||1,348.19|
|Wells William D, Jr DBA||49,500.00||0.00||0.00|
|Wilson Harrell & Farrington PA||74,718.95||149,758.39||79,747.59|
|Less City Atty Jim Messer||168,175.30||75,000.00||0.00|
This has been an issue since June 2014 when Councilwoman Sherri Myers produced documents at an agenda review outlining Mayor Hayward had spent over $2 million with 40 law firms from November 2012-April 2014. Mayor Hayward conceded to allowing CFO Dick Barker give the City Council the city’s legal expenditures on a quarterly and annual basis.
The transparency and accountability did have an effect on reducing outside legal cost the following year, but the fees have crept back up this past year.