FEBRUARY 3, 1997

 The Edwards Agency

Opinion

Fox guarding the henhouse

legal costs The following is the final tabulation on the cost of the Fire District going to court over my request for public records.
   This incident has now cost the taxpayers approximately $5,375 for the District's legal counsel, $200 in court costs, and my attorney fees of $2,500. I would also like to add that my attorney waived $1,000 of his fee to the court in order to help the cost to the taxpayers; the district did not. The grand total to the taxpayers is approximately $8,075.
   I stated in September that the expenditures for legal fees from that firm were then $34,122.46, and in 1995 they had been $3,613.70. I also stated that a couple of other firms had also been used in 1995 for legal counsel which specialized in a particular field and this is not done on a regular basis. With the new figures for 1996, the legal fees for the district's firm came in at $57, 213.10. That equates to an additional expense of $53,599.40. Since this money was not originally budgeted for in the 1996 budget, it had to come from someplace, which meant something that was budgeted for and needed was cut.
   I don't know about you, but having the "Taxpayer's Watchdog" watching my money is like having the fox guard the henhouse!

Mary Baum, Woodinville