north attleboro town hall building

North Attleboro Town Hall

NORTH ATTLEBORO — Selectmen are trying to decide if they should hire new legal help for the town, stick with their longtime attorney, or do nothing at all.

The board is wrestling with three proposals for legal assistance solicited by Town Administrator Michael Gallagher.

One is from current town counsel Roger Ferris. Another is from KP Law, a firm that gave the town advice of adopting a charter and writing marijuana bylaws. The third is from the firm that does contract negotiations with employees for the town, Valerio Dominello & Hillman.

Local attorney David Manoogian, a representative town meeting member, on Thursday urged the board to stick with Ferris, at least for the short term.

He said the town is undergoing great change with a charter that reshapes the type of government North Attleboro has.

The new town manager and town council will need the experience Ferris brings to the job, he said.

As a lawyer who does business with many towns, Manoogian said he knows each community has its own culture and Ferris knows the culture in North Attleboro.

At least, he said, Ferris should have his contract renewed for six months to give the new town government time to get settled.

Selectmen Patrick Sullivan and Justin Pare said they favored rehiring Ferris, who has been doing the job since 2007 and whose contract ends in June.

They said they have been pleased with his work and his familiarity with North Attleboro is valuable.

The board delayed making a decision, however, since it had just received more information before Thursday’s meeting members said they wanted to study.

Also, Selectman Patrick Reynolds said he had questions about Ferris’ fee structure.

Selectman Keith Lapointe summarized the arguments from various sides of the question, saying he can appreciate all of them.

He said some believe selectmen should make no decision at all and let the new government hire legal help to its liking.

Another point of view is that selectmen should continue to do their duty until the board expires June 30 and that includes hiring legal counsel, he said. Also, it could be an advantage to the new government to have legal representation already in place, he said.

Gallagher said not making a decision would keep Ferris in place for the time being because the bylaw says he keeps serving until a replacement is named.

Board Chairman Michael Lennox said the new town manager, who will replace selectmen, will have the authority to replace whoever the legal counsel is if he or she wants.

Ferris declined to comment.

Jim Hand may be reached at 508-236-0399 or jhand@thesunchronicle.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @TSCpolitics.

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