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Local

City Council to decide on legal services contract

Council set to vote on three-year contract with Chicago firm

DeKALB – City Manager Bill Nicklas is recommending that the City Council approve contracting with a Chicago-based firm for less money than the city’s soon-to-expire contract with Frieders Law LLC.

According to the agenda for Monday’s City Council meeting, the council will vote whether to approve a three-year contract with law firm Rosenthal, Murphey, Coblentz and Donahue. The firm was chosen out of a list of 10 law firms that responded to the city’s request for proposals for legal services.

The new legal services contract, which would begin June 1, would set an initial hourly rate of $175, making the annual fee for the first full year (Jan. 1, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2020) $180,000. Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the hourly rate would increase to $185, amounting to $190,000 annually.

“We had to consider two things,” Nicklas said, recalling the legal services search process. “The first and most important actually wasn’t the price, it was the ability to perform all the functions that we had listed in the RFP.”

Senior attorney John Donahue would be responsible for providing counsel during council and other meetings, while attorney Matthew Rose would provide prosecuting services, Nicklas said Thursday. He said they were chosen in part because of their previous work with tax increment financing.

“We wanted to see their experience, and they had to provide a sheet of the work they’ve done in other places,” Nicklas said. “This firm had significant experience in the very areas we were looking for, and some very significant TIF experience. So we thought all those things were very helpful to us, and their price was very competitive.”

Nicklas said the two attorneys will be provided office space in the DeKalb Municipal Building, but said they told him they don’t need a designated office.

The decision to put out a request for proposal was made in February by Nicklas as a way to address City Attorney Dean Frieder’s $228,000 contract in light of budget deficits. Since Nicklas’ tenure began in DeKalb, he’s concentrated on finding ways to address the city’s fiscal constraints by laying off department personnel and restructuring city positions.

Frieders was invited to submit his own response, but declined. It was later discovered that Frieders had been hired as the new village manager and village attorney for the village of Pingree Grove. He’s set to leave the city May 31, and will begin his new role in Pingree Grove on June 1.

The firm, founded in 1987, has its principal offices in Chicago, housing five attorneys and paralegal and support staff. More than 90% of their clients include municipalities and other public entities, according to the agenda.

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