What Urbana documents show on law firm expenses

What Urbana documents show on law firm expenses

When Urbana declined to turn over six months' worth of the Lowenbaum Partnership's invoices to The News-Gazette after requesting the documents under the state's Freedom of Information Act, the newspaper appealed to the Illinois attorney general. The office ruled that the city inappropriately denied the information, and ordered the city to turn over the documents with sensitive information redacted.

Here's what those documents revealed, between July and December 2013:

$137,671.97: The total amount the city paid to the Lowenbaum Partnership in the first half of the city's fiscal year.

$46,891.25: The amount the city paid to St. Louis-based Lowenbaum Partnership attorneys on days they were in Urbana. This amount includes time spent traveling.

$1,074.86: Mileage reimbursement paid to those attorneys.

$46,905.75: How much the city spent to have attorneys in conferences, often with city or union officials.

$29,134.90: The amount it cost the city to have Lowenbaum partnership attorneys research or otherwise prepare for legal proceedings.

$18,065: The amount those attorneys were paid for telephone calls.

$3,511.25: The amount the city paid the outside attorneys for emails.

$28,562.50: The amount it cost to have those attorneys review and analyze material.

$33,701.25: How much was spent drafting and revising memos, arguments or other documents.

'Special counsel' spending

City spending on a suburban St. Louis law firm called the Lowenbaum Partnership has grown in the past seven years — totaling $554,136.98 since 2007. Overall spending on outside attorneys in most years is even a bit higher than what the city has paid the Lowenbaum Partnership, which itself far exceeds the budgeted amounts.

Fiscal year* Budgeted Lowenbaum Partnership
2013-14** $8,780 $261,750.19
2012-13 $8,780 $122,464.63
2011-12 $8,780 $50,817.22
2010-11 $8,780 $89,462.64
2009-10 $8,780 $15,949.45
2008-09 $12,200 $5,137.09
2007-08 $12,200 $8,555.76

* Each fiscal year runs from July to June.

** Through May 5.

Source: City of Urbana

Comments

News-Gazette.com embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. We reserve the right to remove any comment at our discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments

Skepticity wrote on May 06, 2014 at 3:05 pm

I am not an accountant, but there seems to be some kind of budgeting error.  Can Urbana really budget $8780 (where did that amount come from???) and actually spend over $261,750 and not have a problem with budgeting? This is just one small part of the budget!

No wonder my tax bill shocked me.  If other local units of government are budgeting like this, we can expect taxes to continue to rise until we can no longer afford to live in Urbana! 

 

Darn that Carle, anyway.  It is surely all their fault for sneaking out of paying taxes, those scallywags!