- Associated Press - Friday, July 10, 2015

BILOXI, Miss. (AP) - The city of Biloxi has paid more than $5 million in legal fees within the last 4 years, with $2.6 million going to a single law firm.

Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich and city attorney Gerald Blessey have set Monday as the deadline for firms to submit requests for proposals to provide outside legal counsel on an as-needed basis.

“We want to have the best field of specialized attorneys available to us, offering the best service and conservative fees. We’re looking for creative ideas to reduce costs, not just an hourly rate. Our goal here is to have cost-effective representation for the city,” Gilich said when he announced the request for proposals.

The city is looking for a variety of specialties, from bond counsel to workers compensation. Along with qualifications, the city wants attorneys to include proposed hourly rates or alternative fees such as rates based on whether or not the firm wins a case.

The attorneys also are asked in their proposals to disclose any potential conflicts of interest.

The Sun Herald reports (https://bit.ly/1Ro8hek ) half of the city’s legal expenses since 2011 were paid to Biloxi law firm Page, Mannino, Peresich and McDermott. The other $2.6 million went to more than a dozen other firms who handled annexation, bond issues and other legal matters and to the city court judge and prosecutors.

The city paid $59,000 for closing costs on tax increment financing bonds for Margaritaville Casino, $245,500 for the closing costs on the $21 million bond for the baseball stadium and $150,000 for the closing costs on a $14 million bond for city improvements.

So far this fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, the city has spent $707,000, with $323,000 of that paid to the Page firm.

Ronald Peresich, the senior partner in Page firm, said the firm will respond to Biloxi’s request for proposals.

Peresich said he approves of Biloxi’s plan to request proposals from law firms.

“It’s always good for a business or a new government to review, take a look at whether there’s a better way to do things,” he said. “I applaud them for that.”

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Information from: The Sun Herald, https://www.sunherald.com

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