Mattapoisett adds oversight after excessive legal spending

Nov 16, 2021

MATTAPOISETT — The Town of Mattapoisett has burned through about 60% of its legal budget just four and a half months into the fiscal year, Town Administrator Mike Lorenco announced at a Nov. 16 Select Board meeting.

The budget for Mattapoisett Town Counsel, which is provided by KP Law, is $80,000 starting when the fiscal year began on July 1.

“We’ve never been at the point where we’ve used this much this early,” said Select Board Member Jordan Collyer, though he added it is fairly common for the town to run over its legal budget by the end of the fiscal year.

Most of the legal fees have been generated by various town committees and boards with some, like the Planning Board, using more than others because of complicated projects in their purview, Lorenco said.

“The point is it’s not being properly tracked,” said Lorenco. “It’s falling to me after I get the bill, not before.”

Lorenco emphasized that the problem was not with KP Law, but simply that they were being used too often.

“KP Law has been great. I have nothing but good things to say about them,” he said. “But the bill is high.”

The Board discussed ways that the other boards could save money, such as by asking town employees to lend their expertise before calling Town Counsel, but agreed that an oversight mechanism would need to be put in place to minimize unnecessary spending.

The Board agreed that the Town Administrator should be put in charge of pre-approving requests for legal counsel by town entities and that another party should be designated to approve such requests if the Town Administrator is away.

At the end of their discussion, the Board voted to approve a policy that would require such approval.