The amount billed by City Attorney Ben Kahn in 18 ½ months, from 3/15/2016 through 9/30/2017, is $484,010.88*.
The amount billed by Kahn so far in 2017 is $267,802.43*.
Of the total amount billed, as of 10/24/2017, all but $28,591.16*, has been paid by the City.
*These numbers come from official records produced by the City of Salida in response to Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) requests, and are available at OneSalida.org.
The Mayor claims in his campaign ads in the Mountain Mail that the City Attorney year-to-date costs were only $60,011.52. The mayor’s ad outlines some arithmetic that arrives at this number to the penny. The mayor’s number is more than $200,000 lower than the $267,802.43 shown in the CORA records referred to above.
The City is also required by law to post its disbursements on the city website, CityOfSalida.com. That website reports the following payments made to the City Attorney in 2017:
|17-Jul||The Conundrum Group|
|17-Jan||The Conundrum Group|
|17-Feb||The Conundrum Group|
|17-Apr||The Conundrum Group|
|17-May||The Conundrum Group|
|17-Jun||The Conundrum Group|
|17-Sep||The Conundrum Group|
To get his low $60,000 number, the mayor subtracts what he said the City paid to the City Attorney amounting to “$152,000 defending the city on frivolous lawsuits in 2017.” But the billing records cited above show that Kahn was paid less than $48,000 on those lawsuits in 2017. The City Attorney did charge $37,000 in 2016 on those lawsuits, but the total hardly adds up to $152,000. And no court has ruled that the lawsuits referred to were frivolous.
We previously reported that the so-called frivolous lawsuits were entirely avoidable. Had the City simply re-voted on its removal of an NRCDC board member ($25,000), produced an email in response to a CORA request ($50,000), and produced letter in response to another CORA request ($64,000), $139,000 of this money would not have been spent.
As we asked before, does the mayor even know how much he is paying the City Attorney? If he does not, that is very bad for the City. But if he does, that is even worse.