Saugerties Village Trustee Donald Hackett, who had questioned the village’s payment to an attorney who specializes in labor law, has agreed to extend the lawyer’s contract for one year.
William Wallens of Roemer, Wallens, Gold and Mineaux has been representing the village in union negotiations for several years. Hackett contends that a specialist attorney is not needed and the village’s regular attorney could handle any disputes.
Hackett has contended that labor negotiations with village employees’ unions have been amicable, with disputes settled through discussion and without court action or arbitration. Trustee Terry Parisian has seen the attorney as cheap insurance against the possibility that a disagreement could lead to court at some time in the future, and the cost would be prohibitive.
At the board’s regular meeting on Monday, May 4, Hackett said he and Parisian had discussed the issue and he would now agree to a one-year contract, rather than the three years the attorney has requested, with a review at the end of that period. Negotiations with the village’s unions are scheduled to take place in the coming year and it would be the time a labor lawyer’s services would be most needed. The lawyer has asked for a three-year contract. Mayor William Murphy said he would discuss a one-year contract at the same rate.
Hackett said that after speaking to Parisian about the contract and with negotiations coming up next year, “I have to agree that if Terry wants Wallens, he would have to agree with him that if something came up that if Ben [village attorney Benjamin Neidl] was unable to take it, … so I agree with Bill and Terry that we go with a one-year contract. While he still feels that Neidl could handle anything that might come up, “it is important to be comfortable while you are in negotiations.”
Wallens has been handling village contract negotiations over the past several years and he has expertise that would be valuable in future negotiations, Parisian said. “The purpose of that attorney is to know what our business is. He has been involved in our negotiations forever, and he knows what we need. Hopefully, he can keep us from going to arbitration. I think $5,000 is a cheap insurance policy to have our taxpayers feel confident that we can avoid arbitration by dealing with them.”
The board voted to authorize Murphy to contract with Roemer, Wallens, Gold and Mineaux for one year if the firm would agree to a single year contract.