FAIRHAVEN – The Board of Selectmen voted Monday night to keep Thomas Crotty as town counsel despite objections from member Bob Espindola, who called the decision “rolling the dice with taxpayers’ money.”
Still, Espindola, who supported Boston-based Kopelman and Paige, said, “I had a feeling it would turn out this way.”
The vote to keep Crotty followed a three-month-long review of town attorney services that included 19 firms applying for the position and culminated last month with selectmen interviewing Crotty, Kopelman and Paige, and Joseph Michaud and Associates.
On Monday night, Espindola reiterated his support of Kopelman and Paige because of its promise to cap annual town legal fees at $125,000.
“It’s the clear choice for price control,” he said. “We need to stop the trend of digging into our reserves for operating costs. They are giving us the opportunity to cap a six-figure expense; we need to take it.”
Kopelman and Paige was the second choice for Board Chairman Charlie Murphy and member Geoffrey Haworth. Both opted to stick with Crotty because of his 30 years of experience in Fairhaven.
“He has working knowledge of our town,” Haworth said.
Haworth also said he was skeptical of Kopelman and Paige’s promised annual cap, asking, “How do we know they didn’t low-ball us this year and won’t come back at us next year with a higher rate?
The issue of potentially replacing Crotty as town counsel has been a heated debate in town, with many perceiving a core for Crotty as supportive of his work advocating for the town’s two controversial wind turbines.
Espindola, who initially called for a review of town counsel, publicly stated his opposition to the turbines when he ran for office in 2012.
On Monday, Murphy said that he had received “more constituent calls than ever” on the matter.
“This is something people really care about,” he said.