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Bronxville: Fees to Fight Raise Higher Than Raise

BRONXVILLE, N.Y. –   Two legal firms will be paid about $25,000 in fees to fight what would have been an $18,500 pay raise to Bronxville's former library director.

The village's insurance company has denied its claim for the legal fees, leaving Bronxville responsible for paying lawyers about $6,400 more than the salary increase would have cost the Bronxville Library Board of Trustees head Wednesday night.

Board President Rosanne Welshimer said village officials are appealing the insurance company's decision.

Former Library Director Laura Eckley left her post last January to head the Larchmont Public Library after suing the Village of Bronxville, its mayor and the Bronxville Library for nulling an $18,500 pay raise one month after notifying her of it in October 2011. She had not requested the increase and was informed of it via a letter that also praised her work.

Trustee Sean Abbott, the longest-serving member on the board and former president, was the only vote Wednesday opposing the motion to approve payment of the legal fees. Abbot had also opposed rescinding the increase last year and was the only official to publicly criticize the library board and village officials for their action.

He questioned the inclusion in the library's payment vouchers of legal charges from law firms McCullough, Goldberger and Staudt totaling $23,443.27 and Bond, Schoeneck and King for $1,411.24.

“These are legal bills that should never have happened. This is the compounding of a terrible decision to reverse the salary increase,” Abbott said after the meeting. “If the insurance company is refusing to pay the bill, then Bronxville taxpayers are owed an explanation as to why.”

He added that except for the legal fees, the payment vouchers were typical of the library’s expenses.

“I signed the vouchers for 18 months and I never saw a bill from McCullough, Goldberger and Staudt even though I worked with them on various library matters,” Abbott said. “If this is due to more precise reporting of actual library expenses, then why not simply state it?”

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