Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

City's outside legal fees spike

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City spending on external legal consultants more than doubled last year.

The city has released its annual report on consultant contracts for 2012 -- it shows Winnipeg spent $643,442.09 on 27 separate legal consultant contracts, up from the $298,217 it spent on 13 external legal consultants the previous year.

The report shows Winnipeg spent $211,668.59 to hire Taylor McCaffrey LLP to provide legal services related to negotiating and arbitration with various unions. Council's executive policy committee approved the contract in December.

The city paid Fillmore Riley $20,924.17 to review the land-sale swap and conduct an appraisal review for fire stations, and the chief administrative officer's office spent $7,428.84 on legal services.

Winnipeg's property and planning department hired external lawyers for legal services related to a Federation of Canadian Municipalities guarantee and an expansion to the Winnipeg Convention Centre, and the water and waste department got a legal opinion on their agreement with Shoal Lake First Nation Band No. 40.

"The data contained in the report represent as much as we are properly able to provide," city spokesman Steve West said in an email, saying further information is subject to legal privilege.

In total, Winnipeg spent $3.1 million on 236 consultant contracts in 2012. The bulk of the spending went toward 62 engineering contracts at a cost of $911,145.15.

Last year, the city changed the way it discloses how much it spends on external consultants, and the report provides that information.

The engineering consulting fees that previously made up the bulk of the reports are now included in the city's capital budget and on the section of city's website that discloses the results of tenders.

Council's executive policy committee will review the report at a meeting next week.

jen.skerritt@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 30, 2013 B4

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