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'You Can Never Budget to Be Sued'

Town Councilman Nick Kapoor wants more funding to be set aside for lawsuits, but First Selectman Steve Vavrek doesn't want to over-budget.

Legal expenses have been soaring over what the town has been budgeting to cover the costs, so Town Councilman Nick Kapoor wants more money to be set aside for legal fees in 2013-14. But First Selectman Steve Vavrek, who says lawsuits are impossible to predict, is not requesting an increase for legal expenses.

"I'm not gonna inflate the budget," Vavrek said during a Town Council budget workshop last Thursday. "I want to be fiscally conservative."

Legal expenses are covered in the selectman's operating budget and $97,000 was budgeted for in 2011-12, when expenses came in at $689,611. So far this fiscal year, legal expenses are $215,241 through the first seven months, though $130,000 is budgeted to pay for it.

Vavrek is again asking for a $130,000 legal budget for 2013-14.

Kapoor said the budget was over by 95% three years ago, so he believes the legal budget should be higher due to the three year trend.

Though the first selectman agreed 2011-12 was a bad year, he disagrees with Kapoor's call for more funding because of how unpredictable litigation can be.

"You can never budget to be sued," Vavrek said. "And you can never budget for a storm."

Jim beam February 20, 2013 at 08:59 PM
"I'm not gonna inflate the budget by including costs that we know we're going to incur because that's going to make the budget much too high", appears to be Vavrek's reasoning. What is he talking about? Perhaps this is a new method of budget preparation. Keep estimates low or "conservative". When actual expenses come in so much higher, then he can claim. "who knew?" Even though historical costs dictate budgeting more for a line item, Vavrek considers it more "conservative" to budget a lesser amount. Wow. That is some "out of the box" thinking right there. Are any of the budgeted numbers realistic? Leadership like Vavrek's scares me. "Conservative"? Yeah, right. Words have lost their meaning if this is fiscally conservative budgeting.
Alex February 20, 2013 at 09:01 PM
That police homicide case from 2008 was likely too much for our town attorney to handle. A lot of our legal expenses are a result of that case (between the original case, and the appeal (why did we appeal?)). A case that runs for 4 years and involves a homicide committed by a town policeman is not cheap.
Crown Royal February 20, 2013 at 09:38 PM
You can find a line-by-line copy of the budget here: http://www.monroect.org/systems/file_download.aspx?pg=5760&ver=2 There are some pretty crazy numbers in there, especially concerning salaries.
Crown Royal February 20, 2013 at 09:40 PM
BTW, According to the Monroect.org website there is a Budget workshop tonight. Wednesday, February 20, 2013 Town Council Budget Workshop Session: 7:00 PM Conference Room 204 - Town Hall
Oldblooeyz February 21, 2013 at 02:57 AM
Of course you can budget for legal expenses. A decent finance professional and most business people know this.

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