MPA roster hearing delayed for third straight month

Town Has Spent $153.5K On FY2022 Outside Legal Costs

BLYTHEWOOD – The non-jury trial roster meeting for MPA Strategies lawsuit and the Town of Blythewood’s countersuit was postponed earlier this week for the third straight month. The most recent roster meeting was scheduled for Monday, July 11. The roster meetings were previously continued for the months of May and June.

All the while, the Town’s legal expenses for MPA’s lawsuit and the town’s countersuit continue to climb.

According to the Town’s May 2021-22 Revenue and Expense Report, the Town’s outside legal expenses rose just over $37,000 over the previous month. They rose another $5,148.86 during June, bringing the Town’s FY 2021-22 year-end total for outside legal costs to $153,547.37, exceeding the budgeted amount by $8,547.37 or 5.89 percent.

What are outside legal expenses?

Outside legal expenses generally have to do with expenses related to lawsuits for which the Town hires outside legal representation. However, as the expenses for the MPA-related legal filings have mounted, the council voted to lump all attorney’s fees, including the municipal attorney’s salary, into ‘outside legal fees,’ making it difficult to know how much the Town is spending for the MPA legal costs and how much it is spending on other legal costs.

In an interview with The Voice in February, 2022, Councilman Rich McKenrick told The Voice he believes the Town’s outside attorney David Black with Nexsen Pruet law firm in Columbia – who represents the Town against MPA Strategies – is the payee for most of the Town’s outside legal expenses.

How Much Has Town Paid Out?

According to the Town’s online monthly financial reports, outside legal expenses as of Dec. 31, 2021, came to $93,929.13. As of June 29, 2022, the last report posted by the Town, the outside legal costs stood at $153,547.37.

Outside legal fees still growing

Budgeted amounts for outside legal expenses have mushroomed from $25,000 in FY 2020-21 to $60,000 in FY 2021-22, after Mayor Bryan Franklin authorized the hiring of attorney David Black, with Nexsen Pruet law firm, to handle legal issues with MPA Strategies, a firm council voted 3-2 to hire in February, 2021, to market the town.

This past spring, the Town’s FY 2021-22 budget for outside legal expenses was amended to $145,000.

The budgeted amount for outside legal expenses for FY 2022-23 is $200,000.

Contact us: (803) 767-5711 | P.O. Box 675, Blythewood, SC 29016 | [email protected]