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Longboat town attorney seeks new, hourly deal

Maggie Mooney-Portale has served as town attorney since 2013.

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  • | 6:00 a.m. July 5, 2017
  • Longboat Key
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Town Attorney Maggie Mooney-Portale hopes to tear up her contract with Longboat Key in favor of a new one. With a raise.

Mooney-Portale’s contract with the town began in July 2013 and expires in June 2019. Either party can terminate the deal with 90 days’ notice.

The contract specifies that certain general counsel services fall under a monthly retainer of $20,312.50. Most other services are billed at $235 an hour.

Mooney-Portale asked commissioners in June to consider eliminating the retainer fee in favor of a straight-hourly rate of $235 for all services.

Mooney-Portale said $235 an hour is the market rate for an attorney with her “experience and level of expertise.” She mentioned that it’s the amount she charges her other clients.

Further, Mooney-Portale said David Persson of her law firm, Persson & Cohen, was paid $235 an hour when he left the position of town attorney in 2012 after 23 years.

Town Manager Dave Bullock said the change would account for an increase in the annual budget’s general fund of nearly $76,000. Bullock showed commissioners that the town paid its attorney $243,750 in 2016. Under Mooney-Portale’s proposal, the billing would have been $338,177.

In a June 12 memo, Mooney-Portale made her case to commissioners for the switch.

“The total number of retainer (general counsel) services hours have consistently exceeded the amount I contemplated,” Mooney-Portale wrote. “The hours have also fluctuated considerably.”

Mooney-Portale said issues unforeseen in 2013, when her contract began, drove up retainer hours. Among those issues: the town’s underground utilities project and code enforcement matters, as well as “nuances relating to unique attributes associated with the Town,” including density referendum requirements and issues relating to the town’s geographic divide between two counties.

In the end, commissioners approved the $76,000 increase in the general fund while assigning Commissioner Jack Daly and Bullock to negotiate a new contract with Mooney-Portale.

Mooney-Portale resigned as town attorney in May 2014, giving commissioners 90 days’ notice per her contract agreement, but later rescinded her resignation


Maggie Mooney-Portale has been the Longboat Key town attorney since 2013.

She graduated from Florida State with a undergraduate degree in communications in 1997.

She is 2001 a graduate of the University of Florida law school, with a certificate in land-use and environmental law.


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