Use of outside legal counsel questioned

A Williamsport councilman wants to know who pays for legal fees for the city administration, which obtained advice to revise a stormwater transfer resolution from an law firm outside of the city.

Councilman Clifford “Skip” Smith, chairman of the council public works and safety committees, asked William E. Nichols Jr., city finance director, Thursday night why he didn’t use one of the two city solicitors to obtain the legal advice and why the council was not made aware of his approaching McNees Law of Harrisburg.

“River Valley Transit is responsible,” Nichols said. It will be paid for using a litigation line item in RVT’s budget and did not require a contract, the finance director added.

Mayor Gabriel J. Campana said Friday that Nichols has the law firm on retainer and it was his responsibility to do his due diligence to review the resolution, with amendments by council, passed and in the hands of the authority to decide.

“We didn’t require a contract,” Campana said. “We get legal advice all of the time using outside legal counsel,” he said.

Smith, who lost a re-election bid Nov. 7, remains chairman of the committees until the swearing in of Councilman-elect Derek Slaughter and the two incumbents, Councilwoman Liz Miele and Councilman Randall J. Allison.