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Oyster Bay’s outside legal fees go $440,000 over budget for 2016

Oyster Bay Town Hall in 2014.

Oyster Bay Town Hall in 2014. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

The Oyster Bay Town board last week approved $787,157 in legal fees to two firms, pushing the town’s costs on outside counsel over budget in 2016, according to town records.

The town’s 2016 budget included $950,000 for outside legal fees to be paid through the Town Attorney’s office. Councilman Joseph Pinto cast a lone dissenting vote against legal fees based on town figures showing that the proposed expenditures would go $440,243 over that budget.

“How could I vote to spend monies on a budgetary line item when we don’t have the money to do it?” Pinto said in an interview.

Pinto said this budget breach was shown under a new procedure put in place this year to show board members how expenditures affect the budget before they vote on spending.

The board last week approved $606,382 for Manhattan-based Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP for representing the town matters related to indicted restaurateur Harendra Singh. The town had already paid the firm $589,922 since last year. Since 2015, the town has spent or approved more than $1.6 million in legal fees on matters related to Singh to multiple law firms, records show.

The board last week also approved $180,775 to its regular outside counsel, Sinnreich Kosakoff & Messina LLP of Central Islip, for various matters.

Paul Molinari, 67, a retired environmental engineer from Hicksville, criticized the town’s legal expenditures which were budgeted at $1.9 million in 2017.

“Our legal fees are going through the roof and as a taxpayer I don’t really see what benefit we’re getting by paying these exorbitant legal fees,” Molinari said at last week’s board meeting.”

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