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.”