By Megan Kelley
In an extension of the continued discussion regarding their attorney, Lake Orion’s Downtown Development Authority Board of Directors voted May 10 to hire their backup attorney, Robert Davis of the firm Davis Burkett Savage Listman LLC, as the board’s primary attorney.
The board hired Davis as their backup attorney at the rate of $95 per hour in December after ongoing discussion and concerns with continuing to share an attorney with the Village of Lake Orion.
Last year, the board spent significant time discussing attorney bills and information, which began with the village’s attempt to remove Orion Township Supervisor Chris Barnett from the DDA board.
During this time, the village attorney, Mary Kucharek of Beier Howlett, worked with and provided legal services to both the village and DDA creating what several board members considered to be a “conflict of interest.”
Despite the hearing ultimately being canceled and never rescheduled, issues continued to arise when the DDA was billed in error for the village’s legal services in June 2021, and when DDA Executive Director Molly LaLone found items on the July 2021 bill that she had to request be removed.
In August 2021, the board voted 6-1 (Barnett casting the lone nay vote) to continue using the legal services contracted through the village with Beier Howlett but to use a different attorney at the same hourly rate.
In September, the board held a special meeting where the board voted to approve a Request for Proposal for backup legal services in the case of another spat between the village and DDA.
Though there was some initial hesitancy to even put out an RFP for backup services. What the board found was that they could find an attorney who would provide the same services for a much lower rate.
The DDA was paying $165 per hour for Kucharek.
Because of this, during the same December meeting in which the board hired Davis, the board also moved to send out an RFP for primary legal services, hoping to retain Davis at the same rate.
During last week’s meeting, the board reviewed the bids from the RFP which included six bids ranging from $95 per hour to up to $750 per hour. Davis’ bid remained the same $95 per hour rate, as did Kucharek’s Beier Howlett bid at $165 per hour.
Without much discussion, the board voted to hire Davis as the board’s primary legal counsel.
Additionally, the board voted to appoint attorney Kevin Kilby of McGraw Morris as the DDAs backup legal counsel at the rate of $185 per hour.
“He (Kilby) has experience mediating between municipalities and DDAs, which could be very useful,” said LaLone.
The Lake Orion DDA meets regularly on the second Tuesday of the month in council chambers at Lake Orion Village Hall, 21 E. Chuch St.
Agendas and board packets are available on the village website, lakeorion.org.