PITTSFIELD — Mayor Linda M. Tyer is moving quickly to bring in new legal counsel for the city — seeking to replace Solicitor Kathleen Degnan with the firm, Donovan & O'Connor.
The mayor has submitted the change to the City Council as part of its Tuesday meeting agenda — the first under the new administration and council. Tyer seeks to hire the law firm on an interim basis through June 30, the end of the current fiscal year.
Asked about the change Thursday, city Director of Administrative Services Roberta McCulloch-Dews stated in an email: "Mayor Linda Tyer is pleased to present the firm of Donovan & O'Connor, LLP, to the Pittsfield City Council for interim legal services for the city of Pittsfield. Donovan & O'Connor has a depth of experience representing municipalities and government entities, and previously provided legal services to the city under the administrations of former mayors Sara Hathaway and Jim Ruberto."
The statement continued, "As such, the city looks forward to a robust working relationship ahead. Many thanks to Attorney Kathleen E. Degnan for her service and work on behalf of the city of Pittsfield, and we wish her all the best in her next endeavor."
Asked whether the solicitor had resigned, McCulloch-Dews said, "We deeply value the privacy of our employees, and for that reason, we will not comment on personnel matters."
It was expected that Degnan, a strong public supporter of former Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi's campaign for re-election, would be replaced by the incoming mayor. Degnan was hired at the start of Bianchi's first term as mayor in 2012.
Former Assistant Solicitor Darren Lee, also a supporter of Bianchi in the campaign, resigned the part-time post shortly after the Nov. 3 election, saying he wanted to allow Tyer to bring in a new legal team.
In a proposal cover letter from Richard Dohoney of Donovan & O'Connor, which was submitted to the council, he states in part, "The proposal is designed to provide efficient, comprehensive and cost-effective legal services to the city and is consistent with models that have been used both in Pittsfield and other municipalities."
The firm's proposal is a flat-fee arrangement that calls, according to the paperwork, for an attorney to be present from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays at City Hall and at other times as needed, such as to attend meetings.
The fee is $8,500 per month, and the city agrees to pay for costs incurred and out-of-pocket disbursements by the firm. The city would be notified for approval of any single cost in excess of $100 or of total costs in excess of $1,000, according to the proposal.
According to fiscal 2016 budget submitted by former Mayor Bianchi in June, the solicitor's salary was set at $77,472, and the assistant solicitor's salary at $35,218.
Dohoney notes in his cover letter that the firm currently represents North Adams and the towns of Egremont and Great Barrington in various matters.