Ludington council hires new city attorney.

January 28, 2020

Carlos Alvarado

Ludington council hires new city attorney.


By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

LUDINGTON — Ludington City Council, in a 4-3 vote, chose to hire a new city attorney for the remainder of the year Monday. The law firm Olson, Bzdok & Howard, P.C., of Traverse City, in conjunction with Ludington-based firm Carlos Alvarado Law, P.C., will now serve Ludington.

The city is currently represented by Mika Meyers Attorneys at Law of Grand Rapids. Richard Wilson, based in Manistee, serves as lead attorney, along with assistance from attorneys George Saylor, Andrea Crumback, Mark Nettleton and Nate Wolf. Wilson said he has been the city’s attorney since 2010 or 2011.

Councilors voting in favor of the change in attorneys were Joe Lenius, Angela Serna, Dave Bourgette, and Brandy Miller. Those voting against the change were Kahty Winczewski, Les Johnson, and Cheri Stibitz-Rozell.

Ludington-based attorney Carlos Alvarado, of Carlos Alvarado Law, P.C., submitted a joint proposal with Traverse City-based law firm Olson, Bzdok & Howard, P.C.

That proposal states that the two firms would charge a flat fee of $5,000 per month for all matters including Freedom of Information Act responses. Currently, Alvarado is the city’s FOIA coordinator and, under the proposal, would continue in that role with his fee included in the monthly retainer.

OBH partner Ross Hammersley would serve as the lead city attorney and Alvarado would be assistant city attorney, along with FOIA coordinator.

“Work falling outside the scope of general matters would only be initiated in direct consultation with and after explicit authorization from the city and would be billed at $190 per hour for Ross and Carlos and $175 for Rebecca, Lydia and Jason.”

The proposal also states mileage would be included except for special meetings. However, that also may be waived based on the availability of Alvarado, whose office is only two blocks from city hall.

Mika Meyers proposed an hourly rate in 2020 of $215 per hour for all matters billed to the city, subject to the cap of any retainer agreement. However, the firm did not submit a proposal for a retainer fee.

“We believe it is important that the city be aware that the current retainer arrangement with Mika Meyers has been very advantageous to the city in the past,” Mika Meyers request for proposals stated. “Annually, the number of hours billed to the retainer exceed the hours that are paid for by the retainer. Since 2013, this arrangement has resulted in the city receiving over 300 hours of ‘free’ legal services worth in excess of $61,000. This, of course, has the effect of lowering our effective hourly rate for retainer matters.”

It also stated that Wilson’s other municipal and governmental clients are billed at rates not lower than $285 per hour.

“In future years, increases would be negotiated with the city manager but it is expected that annual increases of not less than that offered to the other top city officials would be agreed to by the city.”

The firm’s proposal also stated that it would not charge mileage.

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